Lisa Quarantine here, folks.

Trying to bring a little light into a dark time.

Because there's so much about this pandemic we don't understand.

For example, where the coronavirus came from.

When it will leave.

And, what’s the deal with 3D printers?

Believe me, I'm as puzzled as you are.

I have no answers for these mysteries, and I’m a mystery writer. In fact, I’ve been a president of the Mystery Writers of America.

But right now I feel like the president of mysteries.

Because I'm going to leave aside for the moment the scientific details of the coronavirus to focus on the hardest question of all:

3D printers.

How can they do the brilliant things they do?

For example, I read that engineers, pulmonologists, and other geniuses at the University of Pennsylvania figured out a way to make face shields on a 3D printer, for medical staff fighting the pandemic.

In other words, the 3D printer printed masks.


And in unrelated news, I read that another group used a 3D printer to make plastic guns that fire real bullets.

The 3D printer printed guns.


The next time you rob a bank, a 3D printer should be your accomplice.

Full disclosure, I don’t own a 3D printer. I feel fairly certain that I cannot be trusted with a 3D printer. God knows what I would print if I had three dimensions. I’m thinking instantly of chocolate cake, aren’t you? I would print chocolate cake like it was going out of style.

A 3D printer has superpowers far too awesome to be harnessed by someone as incapable as I am. My printer has only one dimension, and that’s one too many.

It prints on paper, not plastic or carbohydrates.

Here's how my printer works, or doesn't:

If I try to print something, I have to specify one of the two printers I own, but I don’t print often enough to remember which printer is which, because both are identified by a mysterious set of numbers. I try to remember to use the one with the 8, but I know I always forget if I’m supposed to use that one or not use that one. And I can’t figure out how to name them either, so that I could label one the Upstairs Printer and the other Downstairs Printer, which would give me a fighting chance.

But no. So every time I need to print something, I play a little game. Press the button, and guess where the paper will show up.

Upstairs or downstairs?

Fun during quarantine!

And then one of my printers stopped printing altogether, though I could never figure out why, and I tried turning it off and on, shaking it up and down, rebooting it, and then booting it out the window.

Just kidding.

I gave up, which is something I heartily advise if you are dealing with a one-dimensional printer.

If you have a 3D printer, I can’t begin to have a conversation with you.

I feel certain that you are way too smart for me.

I doubt that I could even operate a 2D printer.

I have all the Ds I can handle.

I’m Dumb.

This is a distinct disadvantage, because I could really use a face mask right now. Not a fancy face shield from Penn, but just a normal face mask, in one dimension.

Everyone is saying you need a mask to go out, and I see people with masks on television, but I have no idea how anybody is getting them, because the federal government doesn’t think it’s their job to provide me with one.

Even though I pay enough in federal taxes to buy masks for everybody on the Eastern seaboard.

OK, I don’t, but it feels like way.

I went online to buy a mask, but they were all sold out, and I read an article about how to make one from cloth, but I don’t have a sewing machine. So I wrapped a bandanna around my face to take the dog to the vet, but my glasses steamed up so much that I couldn’t see.

And doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and lots of other people can’t get masks either. They have to wash them or reuse them, and they wear Hefty bags to the hospital. They beg on TV every day for basic protective equipment, to keep their own lives while they try to save ours. And they pay taxes, too.

But our federal government has decided instead that our tax dollars should go to big companies, like cruise ships that register offshore to avoid paying taxes in this country, and who am I to doubt the wisdom of my federal government?

I can’t imagine a task more suited for a uniform national response than a national (even international) pandemic, but hey, what do I know?

As usual, the question is where the buck stops.

But no one knows where it stops.

We only know where it starts.

With us.

We took the buck out of our wallets and gave it to the federal government, but it didn’t stop there.

Where did it go?

Upstairs or downstairs?

I bet it stops in the Cayman Islands.

It went on a cruise, and we’re getting taken for a ride.

You don’t even have to be as smart as a 3D printer to know that.

The federal government is the biggest mystery of all.

Look for Lisa and Francesca’s humor collection, “I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses,” and Lisa’s novel, “Someone Knows,” in stores now. Also you can preorder Francesca’s debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard," publishing May 5.