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Joel Kallman, The Heart of APEX, Sadly Gone May 28, 2021

Posted by mwidlake in Uncategorized.
5 comments

Important – If you have come to this post because you were directed here by one of the several covid-19/vaccination denialist sites that are trying to use the death of Joel to support their position, then this page is not for you. Please go back. This page is about the death of a nice person, who died of a disease he tried to do something positive to combat.. This post will not help you, it’s not part of your echo chamber.

If you think that the death of just one person amongst the hundreds of millions vaccinated is significant in respect of vaccination, then I’m sorry to say this but – you do not currently understand medicine, epidemiology, immunology, biology, or really science. And this post won’t teach you. Other posts on this blog might (search on covid-19. *Update* I can see that almost no one has bothered to do that search). I allowed two comments on this post and replied on the topic of why you can die from a disease you have been vaccinated against. No more comments will be allowed as this post is an In Memoria piece and not somewhere for people to try and make their point (update – why are some of you still trying to comment? Duh!!!). If you want to understand more about SARS-CoV-2, vaccination, or epidemiology, I suggest you read proper, scientific articles about it. Try Wikipedia to start, look at the NCBI or the NHS sites. From there go on to scientific pages, those by people who’s actual profession is to try and understand all of this. And if you think all those places are part of some great plot of deceit, then you have bigger issues and nothing I say will dent your faith.

As I said, this blog post is not for you, please go back to your chosen view of the world.

Now, for those of you who knew or cared about Joel Kallman please read on….

News is spreading around the Oracle community, and especially the APEX community within it, of the passing of Joel Kallman from Covid-19, at just 54 years old. Joel, along with Mike Hichwa, created APEX in 1999 and since then he has been passionate about using it for the betterment of anyone and anywhere he could find a use for it. But more than that, Joel has been passionate about community. APEX is the technical product he is known for, but everyone who met Joel knew he was, more than anything, passionate about people and doing the best for everyone.

When anyone in our community passes away there are tributes paid. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many and with such depth of feeling as there have been for Joel. Everyone who met him seems to have their own story of what a supportive and kind person he was.

So why add my own, especially as others knew him better and have better memories to share? Because it’s another candle to the shining beacon of remembrance that Joel deserves.

My story of Joel

I didn’t know Joel very well, we had exchanged a few words at various Oracle conferences but never had a proper conversation. However at OOW London 2019 he came over to me, almost jogging through the throng calling me. “Hi Martin, I’ve been looking for you – I’m Joel Kallman”. As we had briefly met a few times and he is so well known I did wonder why he introduced himself. But then I’m not always good with people, but Joel was brilliant with people.

He wanted to write an article for Oracle Scene, the UKOUG magazine. We (well, mostly my predecessor) had asked him a few times in the past but Joel was always really busy. “I know I keep turning you down, but it’s on my list this year to offer you something – would that be OK?” Well hell yes! He’s Mr APEX and I knew he could write well. It would be a feather in our caps to have him write for us. I was actually on my way to meet someone and I suggested to Joel we meet later but he said no, he had no idea when he would get time again, “ Let’s sort it now, I will walk with you”. And he did, for about 10 minutes, away from where he needed to be. And he was not so much interested in talking about the possible article (that took all of a minute), but more in saying really nice things about UKOUG, how he appreciated me taking on being president, saying it was so good that people like us helped the community and asking me how it was going. That 10 minutes made me feel really good.

In the end the article for Oracle Scene did not happen. That’s not unusual, we are all busy and Joel more so than most, authors often let us down at short notice. But the way he handled not being able to do the article was unusual. Joel was blowing us out with only about 2 weeks before copy date (again, not unusual). But he insisted he have a video call with myself and the editor to explain why he could not do the article and to apologise. The irony? Joel had cancelled the article as he had been working 18 hour days, 7 days a week, for weeks to get a prototype app and the supporting infrastructure together to track Covid-19 symptoms and what drugs people were taking (all drugs, for any other illness, to try and spot a correlation and thus a potential drug target and potential treatments). Some of you may remember Oracle making a huge thing of that app. Joel had poured all he could into it as he thought it might help everyone.

To be candid, Joel looked incredibly tired and he said he’d not seen much of his family for a couple of weeks, but he took time out to do this for us and he must have apologised 4 or 5 times. We were saying “Joel! It’s OK! Go get some down time!”.

Such a nice man and such bitter irony that he died from Covid-19, something that he put so much effort into tackling.

Other Stories And Words.

As I said, so many others have wonderful things to say about Joel. Liron Amitzi has a lovely story about Joel going that extra step for his audience. Connor McDonald shares how Joel explained his ethos of raising up those around him and how maybe some good could come from the awfulness of Covid 19, plus a link to an APEX community page we can all leave our stories on.

And Lauren Cohn has put together a really touching video of Joel, including the personal request he made (which Connor quotes), which starts at 1:38) in his last keynote about us all being part of our communities. I think that video might become his unofficial epitaph

{I’ve had a report (thanks Steven) of the above link not working so try https://vimeo.com/556008201 if not}.

I’ve said a few times about my thoughts on community and being there for others. Joel not only said it but did it, and was an example of kindness and his passion for doing the best by everyone. He was certainly someone to look to as an example. I’m wishing I knew him better,.

I’ve Decided What I Want, Now I’ll Pick My “Science”. May 20, 2021

Posted by mwidlake in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

This post is, I’m afraid, a rant. I let rip on social media (Facebook) about something that has been annoying me about some people’s attitude to Covid-19. A couple of friends don’t use FB and said they wanted to see what I wrote, so I’m repeating (and expanding) it in this blog post. Stuff we put on social media quickly drifts into history and out of sight (it’s often still there but no one looks at it) but blog posts tend to live on, so this post may get taken down in a week or two.

Sometime you just have to let it out…

So, what did I say?

Something I have noticed over the last 10 years (OK, 15 months really) is that what many people state about Covid 19 and all the rules & restrictions is generally dictated primarily by what they want for them – and is sod all to do with the societal need. They have already come to a conclusion as to what they want to happen and then they will pick “science” (which is often not science but more what other people, with or without any biological or scientific skill, have said) to support it, or cite “well it just makes sense” or “the rule stopping me doing this is just ridiculous”.

If keeping us all safe means limiting personal contact then personal contact businesses don’t agree (how many of us REALLY need a hair cut, let alone our nails decorated with glitter). Yes, you might like going to the gym or want a new tattoo but that’s a want, a desire. Not a need. Compared to increasing the risk of spreading Covid-19 and once more seeing our health services having to yet again go the extra mile (or 10) and cancel/postpone all the other stuff they do, your want is rather selfish.

If we are told not to move geographically in order to slow the cross-pollination of SARS-CoV-2 strains between regions then many people from holiday based companies & venues scream that travel is not the actual problem. Yes. Yes it is. Most of us have never before had real-world experience of epidemics & outbreaks of highly contagious, potentially fatal diseases (like SARS & MERS or outbreaks of other contagious diseases) as this is the first pandemic (world wide epidemic) we’ve had for a lifetime. But stopping movement and isolating the ill is about the only way to stop such diseases, aided significantly with vaccines if available, and is a common when such outbreaks occur. I think this lack of personal experience is part of the problem, most people have not had to go through it before so they struggle to accept it is needed now. It makes it even harder to accept because, on an individual level, Covid-19 is not actually that fatal. And if most of the people you know are young, you don’t “see” the impact. Population wide, it’s awful. Go chat to a hospital worker, they’ll tell you. Or actually look at the articles on what is happening in parts of India. It’s bloody awful.

But a lot of people want to go somewhere, or their income is dependent on people doing so (which is much more significant than a theoretical risk, isn’t it?) so they decide what they want and then pick the opinions/science to suit. It really helps if government helps those impacted financially, which the UK has sort-of done, but could have done better. Doing so helps remove the immediate, personal threat and allows people accept the wider, actually more significant societal threat.

If preventing new variants coming into the country means limits & forced isolation for travellers – travel companies disagree. What a surprise. And the screams when it is suggested people will not just be asked to self-isolate but will be checked up on and punished if not. Let alone made to stay in isolation in a hotel. If you *really* need to travel, so to see to a relative’s medical/care needs, it seems people are willing to accept the rules as, compared to the serious need for the actual trip, it’s just an imposition. Popping over to Tuscany for some sun but then being expected to stay at home to protect the nation is seen as an over reaction to such a frivolous thing. Maybe the problem is not the “over reaction” but the frivolous part.

People living in rural communities that have lower levels of transmission “than those oiks in the towns” want to be excluded from the local towns when it’s decided a region needs local controls. “They” have the problem, don’t include us! Well, boundaries have to be decided and they have to be simple. In the UK we have had at times just too many areas with different rules and no one is really sure what the rules are for where. My area is Uttlesford and it was level 3 when all around was 4. Have you any idea where Uttlesford is? And it’s boundaries? Didn’t think so. I live in it (so I know where it is) but I don’t know when I leave it and go into Braintree. Every time rules are based on an area which is not really well defined (like a national border) it’s confusing and there are lots and lots and lots of borders. Then people scream “Unfair!!!” about the borders. “Why can’t I go to the pub, but that bloke down the end of the road can!” Because the border has to be somewhere, and wherever it is, there will be people on different sides of it under different rules. It’s an unavoidable consequence of local rules OK? And on the topic of the nasty town where all the disease ridden people are and only they should have the restrictions. Where do you go to shop or get the car serviced? That nasty town. And they probably account for a large part of the financial input to those oh-so-pretty villages which the locals want to keep for themselves.

And the one that grinds my gears most is “It’s my Mental Elph!”. It’s replaced “I know my Rights!” as the cry of the unknowing as a demand for stuff they want. “I want to be able to do X as not doing so is harming my mental health”. Well, laying in a bed for a week tied to a mask keeping you alive with high pressure oxygen sort of takes it’s toll too, as I remember.

Mental health is a serious business, it can be utterly debilitating, life-altering, even fatal. Being sad, or bored or not able to do what you want THE VERY DAY you want it is in no bloody way the same as a chronic mental health condition and is not a threat to your mental health. Just stop it. Mental Health has struggled to ever be taken seriously and, now that it really is getting more attention and justifiably viewed as an illness to treat and not a failing, this almost knee-jerk “it’s harming my mental health” is, in my opinion, belittling a serious issue. Or more accurately a set of serious issues as, like cancer, mental illness is not a single disease but many. But every day you will see someone on TV saying it as a reason to be allowed to do what they want. You wanting 2 weeks shagging in Tuscany is not even comparable to someone asking if life can get any more shit and struggling to function in society.

So many people decide on the “science” and “what is fair” based on their personal desires first and foremost. Not what will give most people the best life they can have. I.e they have not read a single sodding article on “the science” let alone checked out if the references even lead to a real scientific paper. It all just ticks me off. Any time you want the rules about Covid-19 to change, ask yourself a question. Do you just “want it” for you? Or do you want it for the people around you? If it is just for you, fine! But be honest! It’s OK, you want it. But don’t try and make out you want it for the common good. As, chances are, you don’t give a hoot about Janice down the road. Go ask Janice. She don’t want her nails painted or to go to the Algarve or have a rave. She’d really, really, really, like to see her daughter for a hug and go to Bingo. But she’ll stay at home alone another year to “protect the at risk”. Which mostly, it seems to me, more and more consists of a people who will bend all rules to suit what they want FOR THEM. Which is where I started…

So why am I ranting about this now? In the UK we are doing really well, cases are down, deaths are down even further, things are opening up and OH BOY am I glad they are. I want everyone to stick to the rules to protect society but what I really want is to be in a situation where we don’t need the rules. And if everyone had stuck to the rules, and our government had brought in the rules when the epidemiologist and medics told them to rather than later, we would have gotten rid of the rules sooner. And less people will have died or been harmed.

World-wide things are generally improving and more vaccinations are being administered, surely it’s all good?

Well, biology is complex and it’s a sod sometimes. Even as we reduce the limitations in the UK, more and more people seem to be behaving as I’ve described above and demanding what they want, not what is sensible. And there is this new variant from India and it’s a bastard. It’s even more infective than the Kent variant and that was a swine, so I think we might see another increases in cases. Hopefully the vaccinations will mean serious illness and deaths will not rise in the same way here in the UK, but I think we are not out the woods by a long way.

I told you it was a rant, sorry.