weekly blog--one for the ages
Let us imagine…A novel coronavirus emerges in Brazil, jumping from bats to pigs to farmers before making its way to a big city with an international airport. From there, infected travelers carried it to the United States, Portugal, and China. Within 18 months, the coronavirus had spread around the world, 65 million people are dead, and the global economy is in free fall.
This fictitious scenario played out in a New York City conference center before a panel of academics, government officials and business leaders last October. The exercises anticipated several failures that have played out in the management of COVID-19, including leaky travel bans, medical-equipment shortages, massive disorganization, misinformation, and a scramble for vaccines.
However, the scenarios did not anticipate some of the problems that have plagued the pandemic response, such as a shortfall of diagnostic tests, and world leaders who reject the advice of public-health specialists.
Most strikingly, biosecurity researchers did not predict that the United States would be among the hardest-hit countries.
Last year, leaders in the field ranked the United States top in the Global Health Security Index, which graded 195 countries in terms of how well prepared they were to fight outbreaks based on more than 100 factors. President Donald Trump even held up a copy of the report during a White House briefing on February 27, declaring: “We’re rated number one.” As he spoke, SARS-CoV-2 was already spreading undetected across the country.
Now, as COVID-19 cases in the United States surpass 4 million, with more than 150,000 deaths, the country has proved itself to be one of the most dysfunctional.
Once upon a time, you could leave home and find an open bathroom when you needed one. How so much has changed with CoVid. Below are a few tips from the LA Times on managing your bladder during the pandemic .
Do some shopping...find a parking space, sprint through the parking lot and then pray there’s no line, but you can be reasonably certain that these stores will keep their restrooms open and clean.
Visit a park…If the park is big enough to have a recreation center, it will also have restrooms, which are typically open from dawn to dusk. And the bonus--those restrooms are usually near the parking lots, so you won't have to run too far to get relief.
Digital Mapping…Use your GPS to find the nearest pit stop and then call ahead to make sure it's open.
Invest in a portable urinal…Consider the screw-top urinal for your car. One of Amazon’s top picks is supposedly spill-proof and even has a glow-in-the-dark lid so you can find it at night. For women, consider a pee funnel (FUD) such as the Tinkle Belle, Amazon top-rated Sunany that features a funnel tip small enough to fit inside an empty water bottle, the GoGirl, Amazon's bestseller, the Easy Peezy, and the Shewee, one of the earliest FUDs on the market that's available in 10 colors.
There are also plenty of compact, portable toilets on the market, some that cost as little as $19.99. Then again, I have a friend that uses an empty Snapple bottle.
Look for rest stops...State-maintained rest areas are still helpful on long trips, provided they’re not closed for maintenance.
Pack a bag...Because accidents happen, have a little bag in your car with wipes, tissues, plastic bags (one for damp garments, another for soiled tissue) and a change of clothes. Also, an extra pair of shoes in case your pee funnel slips. Some extra hand sanitizer would also be helpful, along with a towel to wrap around yourself if you must go somewhere in wet pants to change.
Tired of being cooped up at home? Are you ready to jettison away for a vacation despite the CDC's warnings that staying home remains the best way to avoid getting sick because no form of travel is completely safe.
Consider these travel insights from AARP.
Delta Airlines announced that it will continue to keep the middle seats open past its original end date of September 30, to allow for social distancing between strangers.
Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue are also temporarily blocking middle seats; United and American are not doing so.
Disneyland in California has delayed its opening, with no new date announced; it had planned to open July 17. Disney recently opened its four Orlando theme parks.
Most of the US National Parks are open or are in the process of opening. Zion and Yosemite National Parks have implemented a ticketing or reservation system to limit the number of visitors.
Europe continues its ban on American visitors. However, Americans can fly to Ireland and Great Britain, but are required to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
More Tips at: https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips/safety/info-2020/coronavirus-and-travel.html?cmp=EMC-DSO-NLC-TRVL-TRAVEL--NMCTRL-072120-F1-4727511&ET_CID=4727511&ET_RID=22549025&encparam=TXUU51fhUbMJtIgXGB3zVUcNv1632st7CSdd49SOF0k%3d
A team of scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging in Germany, have uncovered a link between high iron levels in the blood and the aging process. Their findings revealed that having high amounts of iron in the blood was linked to age-related conditions like Parkinson’s and liver disease, and made it harder for the body to fight infections. The bottom line: maintaining healthy levels of iron in the blood could be key to aging better and living longer.
Myth Buster…A recent study concluded that one “dog year” does not equal seven “human years,” and that the relationship between dog years and human years is not linear, but is based on a logarithmic formula. Age in human years = 16 * ln (age in dog years) +31. (ln means “natural logarithm). This formula was derived from the concept of the epigenetic clock, or the aging of the DNA in one’s genes, as a determinant of biologic aging.
Based on logarithmic curves, younger dogs age relatively “faster,” meaning that a one-year-old dog is equivalent to approximately 30 years in human years, but later in a dog’s life, the relative canine aging compared to human years slows. With that, a 4-year-old dog is more like a 52-year-old human (as opposed to a 28-year-old) but a 9-year-old dog is closer to 66 years in human years, and a 10- or 12-year-old dog levels out at about 70 human years.
We express many different emotions using our faces, and that CoVid mask you hopefully wear when leaving home covers up the part of the face that Americans may find most pleasing and rely upon to distinguish friend from foe.
This is because Americans value high energy positive emotions like excitement and enthusiasm, which tend to evoke big open smiles, according to a Stanford University psychologist. And this may be why some Americans don't wear them because it makes them feel disconnected from others.
So, what is the workaround on this? Wear a mask and learn to smile with your eyes and voice, and to read the eyes and voices of others.
Last year on the 4th of July, I was one of the Boston-By-Foot guides that led 3-hour tours of Boston’s Freedom Trail. So much for last year. This year our country is at a turning point. Do we remain a democracy or do we slip into more chaos and dissent?
Below are the 10 hallmarks of American Democracy as presented on the Rachel Maddow show in November 2016.
A free and independent press.
An independent judiciary, that do have the power to correct the other branches.
An excellent and professional military that is not used as a political force against our own people, and that answers to the civilian leadership.
The freedom and ability to participate as citizens in our civic life, including free and fair elections.
An advanced and mature civil society, with organizations to advocate for change and to protect the weak.
The freedom of assembly to organize and to speak out.
Openness to immigrants.
No official religion.
No official language.
No king, but instead a democratic process and a peaceful transition of power.
Here is Parade Magazine’s "how-to" list compiled from a study of super-agers.
Eat just enough less to maintain a healthy weight. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Focus on protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Eat a mostly plant-based diet.
Long-lifers tend to have one or two drinks per day, but it may be more about social engagement than the alcohol.
People practicing a religion tend to live longer, and it might be related to social life, volunteerism, stress-reducing prayer, and an attitude of gratitude.
Cultivating close friendships and avoiding loneliness. According to the Pew Research Center, about 27 percent of the 72 million Baby Boomers live alone.
Spending lots of time in social activities such as book clubs, playing cards, volunteering, and hobbies.
Have an optimistic personality.
Stimulate your brain with brain-stretching exercises and activities that go beyond crossword puzzles and Sudoku.
Exercise at least 45 minutes a day.
Have a purpose.
A few Medicare stats courtesy of the Employee Benefit Research Institute. To cover premiums and out-of-pocket prescription drug costs from age 65 on, you may need $130,000 if you're a man, and $146,000 if you're a woman, one study says. Medicare generally covers about two-thirds of the cost of health-care services for the program's 62.3 million or so beneficiaries. Of people without extra coverage beyond basic Medicare, 28% have either struggled to pay their medical bills or to get needed care due to the cost, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
401(k) managers can now invest in private-equity funds that previously were not accessible. These funds traditionally have been reserved for the wealthiest traders and institutional investors. They typically come with higher risk since private companies are not required to disclose nearly the same about of data with the SEC as public companies do.
About 48% of retirees will not need long-term care or will need very little care. For those with traditional long-term insurance, the beneficiaries would receive nothing. For those with hybrid plans, which combine life insurance with long-term care insurance, the beneficiaries would get the money back plus a little bit of interest.
A snapshot of the U.S. today. A health-care system ill-suited to dealing with a national health crisis and preexisting health disparities. A patchwork response to the COViD-19 pandemic. Entrenched racism. State and local municipalities facing a fiscal cliff. Unemployment at record levels. Impotent federal leadership on gun control and policing issues. On the bright side--this week on the Charles River Bikeway, I saw my first port-o-john with a hand-washing station next to it.
With our country in turmoil, from George Floyd to the Pandemic and that man in the White House, it's time to take a knee.