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Having more time because I’m NOT going out to dinners, walking on the beach, and hosting parties has its benefits. Yesterday, I finished a 3-month weeding project on my 2.5 acres. I just logged in 140 hours of weeding thistles and poison oak. This is definitely NOT something I would have done without the shelter-in-place order that forced me to stay home.

This year’s thistles consumed our property. Instead of having a few here and there, we had thick forests that were taller than me. I realized that simply weedwhacking the problem away each year only lays the perfect environment for seed propagation. Normally, I’d gasp at the crop of weeds and then hire a weedwhacker to level them, but this year I stepped up to challenge myself and handled it myself.

I started at the top of my property and spent 2-6 hours pulling thistles before work. I doubled up on leather gloves and bought every variety sold. After donning my knee pads, hat, and sunscreen, I hand pulled every thistle plant on my property and when I found huge pockets of fluffy seeds, I put them in trash cans. I shoveled poison oak by the roots and put them in cans to dry. My fingers are swollen from embedded thorns and my arms are covered in rash.

Somehow I feel a sense of accomplishment. While this isn’t exciting and it’s something most people don’t understand, getting up at the crack of dawn and racing to pull weeds – section by section – before the sun comes up over the ridge was challenging. I didn’t have to think and there was no stress. I saw insects – even a black widow! – and a snake. Normally they would scare me but they quickly moved away and I just kept weeding. Looking back at the piles of weeds I pulled each morning and evening made me feel proud. Yeah, it sounds odd even as I write this blog.

For now, I love looking at my weed-free rolling hills, and I’m hoping that next season will bring fewer thistles and poison oak. I’ll keep you posted next April!

July 6, 2020

Pulling thistles and poison oak can be rewarding…

Having more time because I’m NOT going out to dinners, walking on the beach, and hosting parties has its benefits. Yesterday, I finished a 3-month weeding project on my 2.5 acres. I just logged in 140 hours of weeding thistles and poison oak. This is definitely NOT something I would have done without the shelter-in-place order that forced me to stay home.

This year’s thistles consumed our property. Instead of having a few here and there, we had thick forests that were taller than me. I realized that simply weedwhacking the problem away each year only lays the perfect environment for seed propagation. Normally, I’d gasp at the crop of weeds and then hire a weedwhacker to level them, but this year I stepped up to challenge myself and handled it myself.

I started at the top of my property and spent 2-6 hours pulling thistles before work. I doubled up on leather gloves and bought every variety sold. After donning my knee pads, hat, and sunscreen, I hand pulled every thistle plant on my property and when I found huge pockets of fluffy seeds, I put them in trash cans. I shoveled poison oak by the roots and put them in cans to dry. My fingers are swollen from embedded thorns and my arms are covered in rash.

Somehow I feel a sense of accomplishment. While this isn’t exciting and it’s something most people don’t understand, getting up at the crack of dawn and racing to pull weeds – section by section – before the sun comes up over the ridge was challenging. I didn’t have to think and there was no stress. I saw insects – even a black widow! – and a snake. Normally they would scare me but they quickly moved away and I just kept weeding. Looking back at the piles of weeds I pulled each morning and evening made me feel proud. Yeah, it sounds odd even as I write this blog.

For now, I love looking at my weed-free rolling hills, and I’m hoping that next season will bring fewer thistles and poison oak. I’ll keep you posted next April!

June 30, 2020

A New Normal

Let’s get our heads out of the sand and start making important decisions about how we must conduct our lives in the midst of a pandemic that is NOT going away anytime soon, or ever. Yup, without a unified plan to lockdown – yes – keep everyone home until the coronavirus is dead, this will go on for years. I just had a heart-to-heart conversation with Nicole, my daughter who is an ER doc, about the coronavirus. This is what she believes we’re facing:

The coronavirus is very contagious and it can adapt. Additionally, the science behind designing vaccines is very complex. First you find a part of the virus to mimic in the targeted vaccine. That way when your body comes into contact with that part of the virus, your body already has antibodies to fight it. Next you need to make sure that the antibodies that your body makes to the vaccine will work to help your body fight it when you come into contact with the actual virus. You don’t want those antibodies to actually make your response even worse such that you get even sicker (this happened with dengue vaccine attempts).

We can’t blindly wait for a miracle vaccine to solve our coronavirus problems. To make a vaccine safely, and confirm that it will not cause this increased response that makes it even more lethal via antibody-dependent enhancement, we will need to perform phased clinical trials on real people (likely on 100,000s of healthcare workers who volunteer for this). Most vaccines take years to decades to prove efficacy and safety before they are ready to distribute, especially to millions of people at once. This will take years to roll-out safely/responsibly.

Nicole spends most of her free time reading scientific journals to follow developments in treatments, vaccines, and epidemiology. Your doctors aren’t getting their covid-19 updates from TV news, politicians or social media.

She is now worried about the two possible trajectories for this pandemic:
1. Everyone begins to go back to work and school/college; gather with family and friends at home, restaurants, and other public venues; and travel across city, state, and national borders. The coronavirus continues to spread and COVID-19 kills millions of people around the world. Anyone who is going to get coronavirus will get it and those who are susceptible will recover, suffer long-term lung and blood vessel damage, or die. After these millions of people are infected, whoever is left standing will either be immune themselves or protected by herd immunity.

2. We collectively, in unison, change our lifestyles to prevent spread of the virus. Universal mask wearing, social distancing, hand hygiene, stay completely isolated at home when you have any hint of the sniffles or body aches, etc. This would slow the transmission of the virus such that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed (like NYC in the beginning and like Texas and Southern California are trending towards now), and the people who do get sick will be treated with all of the techniques that are being studied and developed with reliable and reproducible scientific clinical trials (which takes time).

Individual cities or regions or states or countries cannot make decisions about when to lift shelter-in-place orders. This pandemic is global and affects the entire world population. As a planet, we need to protect ourselves and protect others from spreading this deadly virus. That means that until it is contained everywhere, we all need to stay home to minimize nonessential contact, consistently wear masks, and maintain 6-10 feet distance away from everyone.

Stop thinking that your life will go back to the way it was BC (before coronavirus). We will always need to protect ourselves and others from spreading the virus. A new swine flu with pandemic-level characteristics has just been discovered in China this month. There are more pandemics on the horizon, even when this one slows down. Washing hands (or using hand sanitizers when out in public), and wearing masks can become our new normal. Dining outdoors when socializing and staying 6-10 feet apart will be how we meet with and gather with friends and family. Shaking hands will be replaced with nods or fist bumps.

Want to see how I’ve created a place and protocol for social gatherings that respect our need to protect one another? Check out my blog:
Or take a look at my guidelines for safe gatherings.

June 27, 2020

Tips for Socially Responsible Gatherings

Our house has always been the party house. We have hosted all holiday parties, birthday parties, meetings – any reason to get together. I love to cook and entertain. So I’ve had to rethink how to socialize with family and friends in a safe and responsible way. At first, it seemed cumbersome, but as months pass, I realized that I can do this. Here are my tips on Socially Responsible Gatherings.

Where:
I just built a redwood deck and 3 bistro tables with 2 chairs per table. I also remodeled my kitchen deck with 2 bistro tables with 2 chairs per table. The tables are set 6 feet apart. Being outdoors is much safer than indoors.

When:
Rather than dinners with late-night activities, I’m planning afternoon gatherings when we can be outside.

Who:
Instead of having 25-50 people, I am inviting just one or two couples. While it’s fun to have huge bashes, it’s also fun to talk to a few friends and really catch up on our lives, politics, and our families. Besides, it’s easier to manage 2-4 people than 25-50. I’ll just need to have more Socially Responsible Gatherings to see all of my friends and family!

Masks:
Everyone will wear masks except while eating. That means that they’ll wear masks as they serve themselves, walk to the bathroom, and while talking at their bistro tables. If everyone wears a mask, we show respect for one another and we keep our germs (and viruses) to ourselves.

Hand Sanitizer:
Have a bottle of hand sanitizer at every table and any location where guests may visit. This reduces the risk of spreading viruses.

Meals:
I’m planning individual servings that don’t require sharing serving spoons. Burritos, tacos, shish kabobs, wraps, and sushi maki are all easy to grab – and they don’t require serving utensils. No more taco bars or buffet-style dining. Guests serve themselves using their utensils one at a time. When the first guest is done getting their food, the next guest goes up so only one person at a time is near the food. Good social distancing.

Plates and Utensils:
Everyone brings their own plates, utensils, drinking containers, napkins, and whatever they’re drinking. At the end of the meal, guests put their dishes and utensils in their cloth bags and put them in their cars. That way I won’t be touching their dinnerware and placing them in my dishwasher. I won’t worry about a bunch of people in my kitchen touching the faucet, fridge, cabinets, and everything.

Bathroom:
By having sanitizing wipes in the restroom, guests can wipe the toilet handle, toilet seat, door knob, and any surface they touch as they exit the bathroom and head back to the deck.

Clean up:
When guests are ready to leave, they’ll take their dinnerware and trash/recycling with them. I’ll take the serving trays up to the kitchen for washing and storing. Then I’ll disinfect the chairs, tables, serving area, railings, bathroom, and areas where guests may have visited in the house.

While this is a different way to party, we can still have fun. We can catch up, play games, and enjoy each other’s company. Before the event, I send a Socially Responsible Gathering Guidelines to guests so they understand the new protocol and will feel reassured that they’ll be safe. Check out my tips to create your Socially Responsible Gatherings.

June 27, 2020

DIY Cherry Picker

All my gardening during the SIP is paying off big time! All 3 of my cherry trees were loaded with beautiful cherries this year. Made a DIY cherry picker (they were sold out at all stores) out of a liter soda bottle. I picked the cherries a few days before they were fully ripened so that the birds and rodents wouldn’t get them before me. When you pick cherries early, they’re a little sour because they don’t continue to ripen after you pick them. So I left about a 100 cherries on the tree so I could pick them when they were perfect, but the birds got every one of them. They know when to eat cherries and they beat me by a few hours…

June 26, 2020

Meet the California Mothers of the Year: 2019 and 2020

Want to learn more about the American Mothers, Inc.? Check out the Meet the California Mothers of the Year zoom meeting. President, Dorothy Devore, hosted the meeting and several past Mothers of the Year spoke about their platforms and projects.  What a diverse and interesting group of moms.  I spoke about my projects and what I’ve done over the past year.  And, we got to hear from Simona Grace, the 2020 Mother of the Year!

Watch Zoom Meeting here

June 24, 2020

Gourmet meal for ER at Valley Medical Center

Just delivered a gourmet lunch to all of the ER staff at Valley Medical Center in San Jose today. My aunt and uncle asked me to deliver really special meals to the entire ER staff (3 shifts) to make sure that they know that we appreciate what they do to take care of all of us. This was the first meal delivery. I’ve been discussing menus, tastings, presentation, and costs with all of my favorite restaurants in Santa Cruz. Besides gaining a few more pounds, it’s been fun putting together the perfect menus. That’s right up my alley!

I love The Farm in Aptos, CA. They have the best fresh fruit tartlets, shortbread cookies, and spinach and gorgonzola quiches. Just to make the lunch extra special, we added a turkey club sandwich and a cobb salad! You know – so the staff would have all kinds of amazing tastes!

Thanks to my aunt and uncle for their generosity and for their love and concern for Nicole. Big thanks to the entire ER at VMC. They’re the best and they have incredible spirit. They sent us a thank you video that I’ll share here.   

June 23, 2020

9 Hand Sanitizers that Can Kill You

Who would ever believe that there are some new hand sanitizers on the market that are actually toxic? My first thought was that it was a really bad screenplay that nobody would watch; you know — a “B-rated” science fiction movie. But, the FDA announced that certain hand sanitizers manufactured in Mexico can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or digested.

Check your hand sanitizer to make use it DOESN’T have methanol, a wood alcohol. The manufacturer is located in Eskbiochem SA de CV. Hand sanitizers should not have methanol as an ingredient. If you have been exposed to any hand sanitizer containing methanol, seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Exposure to methanol can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.

Here is the FDA’s list of toxic hand sanitizers:
1. All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
2. Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
3. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
4. Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
5. The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
6. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
7. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
8. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
9. Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

My take-away: don’t drink chloroquine phosphate and don’t use methanol hand sanitizers. In other words, don’t take something meant to protect you from coronavirus that might kill you! Is this really where we are as a society?

Source

June 20, 2020

Why wearing a mask protects you against the coronavirus

Now that wearing a mask in public is required in California and other states, we’re hearing all kinds of misinformation about the effectiveness of masks with viruses. My daughter Nicole (an ER doctor) sent me a post written by Dr. Sam Laucks, a surgeon, who definitively answered questions.
I’ve streamlined the Q&A here:
1. Do masks protect me from getting sick?
I have spent the past 39 years working in the field of surgery. For a significant part of that time, I have worn a mask. I have worked with hundreds (probably thousands) of colleagues during those years, who have also worn masks. Not a single one us of became ill, passed out or died from lack of oxygen. Not a single one of us became ill, passed out or died from breathing too much carbon dioxide. Not a single one us of became ill, passed out or died from rebreathing a little of our own exhaled air. Let’s begin here by putting those scare tactics to rest!

2. Wearing a mask for people with advanced lung diseases can make it difficult for them to breathe. What should they do?
It is true that some people, with advanced lung diseases, may be so fragile that a mask could make their already-tenuous breathing more difficult. If your lungs are that bad, you probably shouldn’t be going out in public at the present time anyway; the consequences if you are exposed to Covid-19 would likely be devastating.

3. Can’t viruses go right through the mask because they are so small? Masks keep viruses out just as well as a chain link fence keeps mosquitoes out,” some tell us.
It is true that individual virus particles can pass through the pores of a mask; however, viruses don’t move on their own. They do not fly across the room like a mosquito, wiggle through your mask like a worm, or fly up your nose like a gnat. The virus is essentially nothing more than a tiny blob of genetic material. Covid-19 travels in a CARRIER – the carrier is a fluid droplet- fluid droplets that you expel when you cough, sneeze, sing, laugh, talk or simply exhale. Most of your fluid droplets will be stopped from entering the air in the room if you are wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is a very efficient way to protect others if you are carrying the virus (even if you don’t know that you are infected). In addition, if someone else’s fluid droplets happen to land on your mask, many of them will not pass through. This gives the wearer some additional protection, too. But, the main reason to wear a mask is to PROTECT OTHERS. Even if you don’t care about yourself, wear your mask to protect your neighbors, co-workers and friends! A mask is certainly not 100% protective. However, it appears that the severity of Covid-19 infection is at least partially “dose-dependent.” In other words, the more virus particles that enter your body, the sicker you are likely to become. Why not decrease that volume if you can? “What have you got to lose?!”

4. Doesn’t a requirement or a request to wear a mask violate my constitutional rights?
You’re also not allowed to go into the grocery store if you are not wearing pants. You can’t yell “fire” in the Produce Department. You’re not allowed to urinate on the floor in the Frozen Food Section. Do you object to those restrictions? Rules, established for the common good, are component of a civilized society.

5. Aren’t masks uncomfortable?
Some would say that underwear or shoes can be uncomfortable, but we still wear them. (Actually, being on a ventilator is pretty darned uncomfortable, too!) Are masks really so bad that you can’t tolerate them, even if they will help keep others healthy?

6. Won’t people think I’m a snowflake or a wimp if I wear a mask?
I hope you have enough self-confidence to overcome that.

7. I never get sick; I’m not worried.
Well, then, wear a mask for the sake of the rest of us who are not so perfect!

8. Will wearing a mask help stop the COVID-19?
There is good evidence that masks make a real difference in diminishing the transmission of Covid-19. Please, for the sake of others (and for the sake of yourself), wear your mask when in public. It won’t kill you!
And, by the way, please be sure that BOTH your nose and mouth are covered! Recommendations around mask usage are confusing. The science isn’t. Evidence shows that masks are extremely effective to slow the coronavirus and may be the best tool available right now to fight it.

So there you have it! If a surgeon of 39 years believes that wearing a mask can protect us from spreading the coronavirus and dying from COVID-19, I’m in. I have a dozen masks that I’ve stashed everywhere so I always have a clean mask ready. This is a really easy thing for each of us to do.

June 18, 2020

College spring breaks spread COVID to college campuses

I get that we’re all really antsy to get out of the house and resume “summer vacation” activities. When we’re inundated with different messages from the WHO, CDC, government, friends, and family about when shelter-in-place orders will be eased, it’s easy to just take the path of least resistance and go along with the crowd. But seriously. Read the numbers and you’ll see that the numbers of COVID-19 cases are still rising across the US. Yesterday in California, we had more new cases in one day than we have had since this pandemic started in February. A new study reveals how the 2020 Spring Break help spread COVID-19 on college campuses and the surrounding communities.

Statistics speak volumes and when researchers looked at spring break vacation dates, cell phone data, and reported cases of COVID-19, they found that student breaks are partly responsible for the continuing growth of this pandemic. It’s not just spring break, but fall break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas/Winter break, and long weekends.

Many colleges are starting early this fall so they can switch to online classes and shut down campuses and dorms before Thanksgiving. This can prevent the spread of COVID-19 when the students would return to campus from all over the country and world after the holidays.

We’re still plagued by the worst pandemic of our lifetimes, and we need to shelter in place until the coronavirus is under control and there is an effective vaccine. Imagine what’s going to happen if everyone takes their summer vacation trips all over the US and world during the next 8 weeks, we’re going to have a 2nd wave before flu season starts next winter. The sooner we stop the spread of the coronavirus, the sooner we can resume our normal lives again. It has to take place in this order – not the other way around.

Source

June 14, 2020

Tips on setting up a Virtual Family Reunion

I have been hosting family reunions for both sides of my family and it’s a big job. Planning activities, meals, games, prizes, RootsMagic (genealogy updates), and lodging takes months each year. But this year thanks to shelter-in-place (SIP) orders, we can’t have face-to-face reunions this summer. We’re a close family so we found a solution: a virtual family reunion using Google Meet.

This was our first virtual family reunion so I kept it simple. We all shared our SIP stories and Nicole gave an update on the coronavirus and her experiences on the frontline as an ER doctor in Silicon Valley. I started the meeting with a slideshow of photos of my SIP projects to get everyone on board. That set the tone for each person as they shared photos and gave us updates on how they’ve worked from home, ordered groceries for delivery, and socially distanced as they met with one another.

Expect that some people will have trouble setting up the virtual meeting so set up a practice run a few days before your event. That way, people can log on to make sure their camera and microphones are all working. You can write instructions on setting up the app, checking the microphone and camera, and offering tips to help those who are computer literate. For others, you’ll need to set it up for them or walk them through every step.

Hope this isn’t the new normal, but for now, it is a fun way to stay in touch with the entire family. I recorded our session and plan to add it to RootsMagic so future generations will know how we’ve dealt with the coronavirus and our SIP orders.