You Can’t Beat a Speeding Train

Most of the time, you can’t beat a speeding train. Should you try? Sounds risky.

My oldest grandson LOVES the movie Cars. At one point in the original movie, Lightning McQueen hits the gas to beat an oncoming train. He’s a race car. He makes it across the tracks in time.

Always in teaching mode, I feel a need to let this 3-year-old know that it’s not a good idea to try to beat an oncoming train. At the same time, I don’t want to take away his heroic view of Lightning McQueen. I tell him, “Only race cars can beat trains.” To me, this is a reasonable compromise that will convey the message that he should not try to beat a train because he isn’t a race car.

His response? “My mommy’s car is a race car. Her car can beat trains too.” He doesn’t just believe Lightning McQueen can beat a train. He believes his family car can as well. I have failed to effectively communicate the lesson I intended.

The way to repair this misunderstanding is to, first, recognize it. The good news is I didn’t ignore what he was watching. The topic has been introduced and is open for discussion. Now I just need to build on his knowledge in a slow and consistent way until I’m sure he understands the risks of trying to beat a train.

If you have kids, you know lessons that stick are taught through repetition. You may also have observed that all lessons are learned through levels of understanding. Some must be absorbed many times over on one level, then another, then another.

We are at a moment in time when clear, consistent, trustworthy health messages must be delivered for us to survive. They should be repeated, built on, expanded, repaired when new information reveals previous cracks in knowledge, and repeated again. Yes, that requires more effort than sticking to a theme, or talking point, but it’s the only responsible thing to do.

The country is still in the midst of an opioid crisis that began with misinformation. But the train that is speeding toward us now is the expansion and growth of COVID-19. There is no time for playing semantics, slow reporting of numbers so that positivity rates look low, or downplaying the risks of sipping wine for hours with a group of friends at your favorite indoor bar.

There may be safe ways to interact, open schools, and keep businesses open, but we simply do not have adequate diagnostic testing, sufficiently accurate antibody testing, and ample contact tracing in place to do it now. We have not studied the airflow in our restaurants, office buildings, or classrooms. We have not expanded classroom space to ensure sufficient distance between students. We have not added funds for schools to replace group supplies with individual kits. Many states are not mandating masks for adults or children 2-10.

And perhaps more significantly, health agencies, institutions, and political leaders have failed to deliver the safety messages needed in a manner that will be effective. In fact, they are actively making the situation worse. Each day, we receive such confusing and conflicting messages, we instinctively know we cannot trust what is being said. Because we are not being provided timely, accurate, consistent messages in an understandable manner, those in charge of policy are losing the information war. And that is costing us lives.

It also makes it more difficult to thrive. You and I may stay home, clean surfaces, wear masks, and adjust to the very real threats of the virus. We may find sources of inspiration and joy. We may practice gratitude. But a basic tenet of thriving is feeling safe. It is impossible to feel safe when we cannot trust the information we receive and the institutions that deliver it.

Since we cannot rely on our leaders to level with us, it takes a massive amount of reading each and every day to filter, decipher, and piece together a cohesive image of the scientific picture of SARS-CoV-2 that’s emerging. That means it’s easier to ignore. Add to that, the tendency we all have to deny hard truths and you have a recipe for the disaster we are experiencing.

There is always the opportunity to change course, but at this point we cannot wait for instruction from an authority. It may not come. It is incumbent on individuals to take charge of the country’s destiny.

I understand that choosing safe health practices that are not fun while everyone around you has resumed life as usual can be lonely and painful. It will have financial and personal costs. My quarantine bubble unexpectedly burst last week. I feel the loss deeply. That doesn’t keep me from researching and following a safe regimen.

I can see that things are going to get worse before they get better because that’s the choice we’re making. We want so badly to beat the train. We want to return to our previous lives. The messaging failed to tell us we can’t yet do that safely. Now we’re all piled in Mommy’s slow, clunky SUV thinking we’re Lightning McQueen.

We are in a skid. Now is the time to turn right to go left.*

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7293495/

https://elemental.medium.com/coronavirus-may-be-a-blood-vessel-disease-which-explains-everything-2c4032481ab2

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7191274/

*Advice from Doc Hudson to Lightning McQueen in the movie Cars.

Vigilance Takes a Toll

Vigilance takes a toll, but there are rewards. Safety and good health require vigilance and over time. You don’t just put your child in a car seat on the way home from the hospital and call it good. To keep him safe, you put him in it every time you take a ride in the car. You have a system to remind you to take him out of the car on a hot day. You religiously scan the ingredients of food if your daughter has a peanut allergy. You don’t just do it on Mondays. You do it every day of every week of every year. That’s what it takes to keep her safe. No matter who you are, each day will require you to be alert and diligent to stay safe and healthy.

Brush your teeth twice a day. Look both ways before you cross the street. Scan your surroundings before you enter an intersection or drive across a railroad track. Don’t click on email attachments that can’t be verified. Watch for snakes when you swim in the river. Check the depth of the water before you jump in. Check the temperature of the water before you put a child in the bathtub. Keep laundry pods, household cleaners, and medication out of the reach of children. Don’t leave a six-month-old unattended on an adult bed. Don’t pour lighter fluid on a fire. And, of course, don’t run with scissors.

While most of us accept the vigilance required to follow the safety rules above, we often become defiant if we believe a safety rule will take away something that brings us pleasure (avoid fried food, avoid sugar, stop smoking, stop vaping, drive within the speed limit, don’t hug your grandchildren), requires us to do something that doesn’t offer immediate benefit (wear a mask, stay out of a crowded dance club, limit contact outside your home), and/or requires us to pay attention to multiple choices each day (drink plenty of water, eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, avoid gluten, walk 10,000 steps).

You don’t have to pay attention to any safety or health guidance. You can assume the risks. You might come out okay. And there’s no question, vigilance takes a toll.

Paying attention all day long and making mindful choices doesn’t feel carefree. It doesn’t feel fun. Sometimes it’s tedious. Sometimes it’s annoying. Sometimes it’s exhausting.

And constant vigilance can affect your physical health. Living in a heightened state of vigilance each and every day is stressful. The body may respond to that stress by making and releasing extra cortisol – a stress hormone that increases glucose in the bloodstream, alters immune response, and suppresses digestion. It is corralling the body’s resources for fight or flight. Normally, this response is self-limiting, but when danger is constant, the spigot may not get turned off without deliberate action to reduce stress.

In March, the US public at large began to get a glimpse of what it feels like to live defensively every moment. Suddenly, we were instructed to be on guard for a virus that could be anywhere, or everywhere. There was no way to know who may spread it so all interactions became suspect.

There’s still no way to know with certainty when you’re in danger and no way to know when the risks will decrease. The only way to be safe is…constant vigilance. A large percentage of us have not been able or willing to practice this. In a mere three months, it’s become evident that Americans as a whole have little emotional stamina even when the consequences of letting down are guard may be deadly.

This could be a window into a path for improving both mental and physical health. What if we put a laser focus on building resilience and learn from those who have been through trauma but still manage to thrive – Elizabeth Smart, Michelle Knight (Lily Rose Lee), Jeannette Walls, Joey Jones, Oprah, Maya Angelou, Col. Charlie O’Sullivan, etc. What if we entertain the thought that their spirits shine not in spite of, but because of, what they endured?

I believe flipping the script could make all the difference during this pandemic and beyond. It has been life’s difficult, heartbreaking, horrific, traumatic experiences that have taught me how strong I am, how much resolve I have, how to put fear aside in order to function, how to be alone, how to live with heartache, how to build trust, how to reset, reimagine, reinvent, how to be flexible, and that what I do matters. I am more resilient because of, not in spite of, a sometimes rocky path.

Focusing in with determination and the openness to learn when faced with difficulty puts us on a whole different path than lamenting what could have been or should be. Attempting to avoid life’s harsh realities rarely has positive consequences in the long term. And denying real challenges does not help build emotional muscle. Weathering life’s unavoidable storms requires vigilance.

And, yes, vigilance takes a toll, but there are rewards for sticking with a plan–safety, health, resilience, and the possibility of thriving even in dire circumstances.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/11/18/nine-years-after-war-took-marines-legs-new-causes-give-him-purpose.html

http://www.injuryslight.com/

Cooking With Gas and All-Clad

I’ve been cooking with gas and All-Clad pots and pans for more than 15 years. I love them! My older All-Clad is not dishwasher safe and I still prefer it over my other pans! According to the May 15, 2020 edition of USA Today, All-Clad cookware is one of 20 most popular things people are buying right now.

All-Clad is great to cook in and easy to clean even when it seems burned morsels are cemented to it. A stainless steel scrubber will take the grime right off. The cookware is pricey, but you don’t have to buy a whole set all at once. I bought one piece at a time over a few years. That gave me time to save up in between.

This bonded cookware is handcrafted and comes with a lifetime warranty. It is made for superior performance. There are no frustrating hot spots where the flame hits the bottom of the pot because the cookware’s core evenly distributes the heat. The handles stay cool unless they are directly on a heat source or you are using a pan in the oven.

I fully understand making this investment if you’re home more and cooking a lot. We all have sensibilities that make certain tools appealing.

chambers

I prefer gas ranges. My favorites are old, heavy, well-insulated Chambers stoves. I’d love to have one in bright red or pale blue. An O’Keefe & Merritt from the 1950s is also appealing. I’d have to rework my kitchen to make one fit, but it could happen.

In the meantime, I have a gas range with a gas oven. My new stove seems safe, but my last one was questionable. Actually, I think it was a lemon. An exciting lemon!

From the get-go, the oven didn’t light properly. A technician replaced a part. A few weeks after the warranty expired, the problem returned in dramatic fashion. I turned on the oven one day, heard and boom, and turned to see the oven door fly open. So much gas had built up before ignition that it literally blew the door open. And you thought cooking was a bore!

I convinced the manufacturer that due to the dangerous nature of this problem they should fix it at no charge. That may have seemed like a win at the time, but I have to say I was glad to see that stove go last year when the whole top oven mechanism fell onto the oven rack. I didn’t even consider a repair. I was done.

Many bakers prefer electric ovens because they heat evenly. I’m not sure why gas appeals to me. It just does. So does wood. At times, I’ve considered buying a stove with a wood-fired oven to bake bread. While that’s not in any of my current plans, I get excited thinking about it.

Some tools appeal because of fond memories. Some appeal because they work well. Others appeal because they make the experience feel right in a way we can’t explain. Listening to our sensibilities when choosing an implement can turn a chore into a pleasure.

Like you, I have more chores these days. The more pleasant I make each chore, the more I enjoy the time I must spend performing these duties. Choosing equipment that enhances the experience is worth it. That’s why I cook with gas and All-Clad!

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2020/05/15/the-20-most-popular-things-people-are-buying-right-now/5201387002/

https://www.all-clad.com/

https://www.antiquestoveheaven.com/okeefe–merritt-


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Pandemic Tool of the Day

Each day for the past week, I’ve designated a #pandemic tool of the day. This started as a silly hashtag I’d send in texts whenever I accomplished something that felt significant during this pandemic: managing to order toilet paper or getting safety advice from a doctor working on the front lines. I quickly realized how grateful I am when I have the tools I need.

I already knew that the right equipment makes developing recipes easier and more pleasant. Now, I’m paying attention to other tools I might otherwise take for granted.

tools

Sunday’s tool of the day: #20_ft_jumper_cables. Thank goodness I had them on hand. My car was parked behind my truck and the battery was dead. There was no way to maneuver the vehicles to face each other. he extra cable length allowed me to start the car easily anyway so I could go…well, nowhere.

That tells you how little I’ve been driving. Luckily, I can work at home so the lack of driving doesn’t mean I have lots of extra time on my hands. It just means I am choosing to stay home to stay safe.

Monday’s tool of the day: #toilet_seat. I have no idea why I bought two toilet seats the last time I bought one, but I was very grateful to have that extra on hand when a seat broke on Monday.

Keeping that purchase may have seemed foolhardy in a Marie Kondo world. It did not bring me joy…until I needed it. Then it changed my world in the best of ways! And I didn’t have to risk the virus to get one.

Tuesday’s tool: #walmart_grocery_app. As you may recall, I was an early adopter of ordering groceries online. In January, I switched from pickup to delivery. At the time, I didn’t know that less than two months later my family would get orders from a cardiologist to stay home to protect my granddaughter.

The early adoption meant all I needed to change was to go no contact. Before that was offered as an official option, I made the change. Once DoorDash assigned a driver for a delivery, I sent a text to that driver telling them to sign for me and leave the groceries by the door. Eventually, the app caught up.

Wednesday’s tool: #paw_patrol_shovel. You won’t even have to ask a kid to help in the garden when you have a PAW Patrol shovel! Just hope they haven’t been watching old reruns of Hogan’s Heroes.

My cousins and I dug a huge hole in my grandmother’s yard one day after watching that show. We were planning a whole tunnel system, and we didn’t bother to ask permission. By the time we were discovered, the hole was four feet wide and three feet deep.

We knew by the fierceness with which my grandmother stomped her foot once we had gone too far. It’s the maddest I can ever remember seeing her.

Thursday’s tool: #pulse_ox. Seems as though silent hypoxia plagues many Covid-19 patients long before they feel shortness of breath. Measuring oxygen saturation levels early and seeking medical treatment sooner can mean a better outcome.

Em’s oxygen levels have to be monitored periodically so we’re quite familiar with the use of a pulse oximeter. It doesn’t require any special skill and may help some patients avoid the need for a ventilator. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/20/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-testing-pneumonia.html

Friday’s tool: #technology. Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to see two of my grandchildren as they change and grow. I couldn’t order groceries online. My entertainment and news sources would be less plentiful. And I wouldn’t be able to do much of my job from home.

Rounding out the week, Saturday’s tool: #masks. I wear masks when I do certain projects around the house. My glasses tend to fog or shift so that I’m looking through the bifocal. I sometimes feel claustrophobic. I have to admit, I don’t love them.

In spite of that, they are the most important tool of the week! My friend who is director of pulmonary and critical care at a local hospital advises that the best way to protect yourself is to stay at home and only enter stores where masks are required and people actually wear them. Although his department gets the worst of the worst cases of Covid-19, he feels safer at the hospital than the grocery store!

I’ve been recruiting mask makers for that hospital. They are constantly in need. A friend is sending me some to use when I take a walk. Knowing that I can protect those around me is enough reason to make my peace with an accessory I don’t love.

Who knows what today’s tool will be? Scissors, tongs, power cord, remote, ladder, cultivator, magnetic letters, pitcher, needle nose pliers, fishing pole, earplugs, and hammer are contenders as are thoughtfulness, kindness, courage, laughter, and generosity.

The pandemic tool of the day will reveal itself in time. I’m looking forward to that moment of excitement and gratitude when I realize I have just what I need.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”