Avian flu has turned up in the county where I live — in chickens, not people. 15,000 birds were destroyed, and people are worrying about the economic rather than the health implications, but I was a little startled by it.

I remember reading in Wired that schoolteachers and shopkeepers would be the first to fall if there were a pandemic of avian flu. At the time I was a shopkeeper serving schoolteachers, so that naturally caught my attention. Now that I am a computer guy, my personal risk must be much lower. Hardly anyone catches things in cyberspace, where I now spend most of my time.

However, we are not talking here about HN51, the deadly strain of the virus that has killed some humans in other countries. That still hasn’t been found in the U.S. at all, let alone in my neighborhood. This is just one of those little flu viruses that birds sometimes get. Frankly, the life of a factory chicken is so horrible that getting flu or being destroyed because someone else in the chicken house has it probably qualifies as a blessed release. This is an interesting part of our state’s history, but I never dwell on it in workshops, because it is likely that 80% of the participants will be eating chicken at some point that day.

In completely unrelated news, we didn’t leave for the midwest yesterday. We plan to leave today, around noon. When I am traveling, I always like to leave first thing in the morning. This is because of the anticipatory anxiety — if you leave at 6:00 a.m., you hardly have time for it. However, I slept well last night and am quite calm this morning, so I may have just Overcome Agoraphobia enough that it doesn’t matter.

I got some good solid work in yesterday, practiced some CSS, made my Amazon choices (narrowly missing the Bamboo computer drawing pad, and now I have compassion for those in the program who whine each month about missing things), and made myself a schedule for July. I have some specific deadlines (July 10th at noon is my favorite; I don’t know why, except that it just seems whimsical to have a noon deadline) and lots of daily stuff. I also updated my employment probability tree, and it looks better than it did before. I still kept the node for “permanent unemployment and abject poverty,” but it doesn’t seem as probable any more. If my big client doesn’t renew my contract, and there’s no real reason that they should, since it was a fixed time to begin with, then I will still have half the work I need. Surely I can come up with a measly halftime something or other.

Client #2’s main competitor — the one he admires — is advertising a position today, full time, with a nice large salary. I was tempted to apply, though I am probably not enough of a computer guy to qualify. The fact that I quite like CSS and have mastered the flow probably wouldn’t make me one of the “HTML/CSS guru’s” they say they are looking for, and I don’t do Javascript at all. I briefly considered pointing out that I could save them from those embarrassing apostrophe errors, but really my limited qualifications are saving me from the temptation to apply with one of my current clients’ competitors. Next year, by which time I will be a proper guru, I’ll be better able to judge the future prospects with the various web development firms in the area, not to mention being settled on the question of self-employment vs. salary. And I am in a growth field, after all. They’ll be hiring again.

There have been no further teaching positions, or really anything suitable for me to apply to. The grant-writing position I applied for early on in this adventure closes on Monday. The job begins on Wednesday, so I think there must be a person chosen already. No committee really expects to get through all the candidates in a day. My letters of recommendation for that position were hot stuff, though, so I am still leaving it on the probability tree for a few days. It is half time, so it would work out very well for me, though it is in the next county up.

So is the web development job. So is the teaching job I interviewed for. Prospects in the county where I live aren’t nearly so lush, even before the bird flu turned up.

I might ought to work on my ability to drive on the interstate for one county. Or plan to leave every day at 6:00 a.m.