Feeling tightness in the neck and shoulders? “Girl, you’re stressed out.”
Grinding your teeth in your sleep? “Um… I told you you were stressed out. When are you going to do something about it?”
Stomach issues? “Stop eating that crap. I don’t like it.”
Hungover? “Less is more, idiot.”
I’d call this “body language”, but the phrase has already been taken. Nevertheless, there’s communication going on, whether you choose to listen or not. But ignore it at your own peril.
I’ve known a lot of people (usually guys but not always), who like to ignore their bodies. They’ll power through. They won’t go to the doctor. They’ll ignore pain for as long as they can, until the damage is irreversible. “Oh, I have a tumor the size of a basketball? No wonder I’ve been feeling funny. I guess I have a week to live now. Pity.”
Nine times out of ten, it’s guys who sport those melon-sized cysts on the Dr. Pimple Popper videos. What woman would willingly walk around with a second head growing out of her neck unless she was forced to due to lack of health insurance? I mean, come on, guys. Why would you let anything get so out of control?
But to be fair, for the life of me, I never can understand those women who don’t know they are pregnant until the baby pops out. Talk about denial. I mean… how… Oh, I could go off on a tangent here, but you can already imagine.
Not only should you listen to what your body is trying to tell you, but you should also take the time to initiate the conversation. Meditate. Sit alone and be still and open to hearing what is being said. Because let’s face it, without our bodies, we’re done. And it’s not like you can trade it in for a new model.
58 years ago, the City of Seattle completed a project that is unique to this city, as so many things tend to be. It was a nuclear fallout shelter beneath Interstate 5 in the Ravenna neighborhood. It was pretty much obsolete from the minute it was finished, as people had by then realized that surviving a large scale nuclear attack was highly unlikely. Rather than let it sit empty and admit what a massive waste of money the shelter was, it became a Department of Licensing office from 1963-1977.
The room was 3000 square feet, and designed to hold 200 people. The bathrooms and decontamination showers had such narrow doors that only the most svelte of citizens could enter, and for such a large crowd there were only 3 toilets. The showers for that same crowd were serviced by one 40 gallon hot water tank. No kitchen was provided, and the instructions for the shelter suggested that people should warm canned food (which they were expected to provide themselves), in their armpits.
There were books, games and recreational equipment provided by the Red Cross. The space was also equipped with folding metal chairs, collapsible bunks and insulated paper blankets. In addition, there were escape hatches, an escape tunnel, a generator, and an air filtration system.
In case of emergency, the first 200 people to arrive would be allowed in. Everyone else would be locked out. (What could possibly go wrong?) There were additional plans, which would have been impossible to execute, to evacuate the rest of the residents of Seattle east of the Cascade Mountains.
After 1977, this place became a storage facility for WSDOT records and used furniture. Eventually it was all but abandoned except for the occasional homeless person. But even the homeless didn’t favor it, because the room is freezing cold most of the time. (Every Department of Licensing employee had to huddle around a space heater, which meant the electricity bills when it was an office were obscene.)
Check out this interesting article to see some oddly fascinating photos of this cold, lifeless, uncomfortable looking space, and reflect upon the fact that at one time in our history we were so completely terrified of utter annihilation that this silly plan seemed like a viable option.
I’ve heard much chatter of late as to what the world will be like once we’ve finally developed herd immunity from COVID-19. Some people seem to think everything will revert back to the way it was when we were all more naïve about viruses, their transmission, and their impact. I don’t see that as a possibility. First of all, sorry to say, but COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. And other pandemics are sure to follow sooner or later.
So this gives me the opportunity to make some predictions about our new normal. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post someday and either laugh at my foolishness or think, “Dang, you’re good!” (That’s one of the drawbacks of blogging. There’s nowhere to hide from your past idiocy. But sometimes you also get to say “I told you so!”)
The reason I’m fairly certain that we will not return to days of yore is that when my boss suggested that we’ll all probably be vaccinated by the end of the month and should therefore be able to revert back to our old shift-change-in-a-teeny-tiny-little-room habit, I had a visceral reaction. Panic, if I’m honest.
First of all, due to HIPAA, we’ll never know for sure if everyone has been vaccinated. Second, as of this writing, the scientists are not yet certain that vaccinated people cannot still be carriers of COVID, and even they say that these vaccines are not 100% effective. The news changes daily, but until I have more reassurance than that, I don’t feel like marinating in my coworkers aerosol, thankyouverymuch.
The smallest lesson from this is that a lot of us are going to find it hard to unmask. I’m struggling with the concept, and I HATE wearing a mask. I’m tired of my glasses fogging, and I feel claustrophobic. But I do it because I know that it has been the safest, most responsible thing to do. It will be difficult for me to gauge when that safety and responsibility is no longer needed.
We’ve all been changed in various negative and positive ways by this past year. We’ve slowed down. We’ve isolated ourselves a lot more. Many of us have worked from home. We’ve all learned that it is possible to do these things. Some of us have liked it, and some of us have not. I suspect that a certain percentage of those who don’t like it will find that they like it a lot more when it becomes voluntary, and they’ll adopt a sort of hybrid lifestyle.
I suspect a lot of people who have been telecommuting will resist going back to the office 5 days a week. That, and businesses will have learned that there’s a lot less overhead to pay when you don’t have to maintain as much office space. And, surprise! The work still seems to be getting done.
On the real estate front, many people who have been allowed to telecommute have sold their houses in the big cities and have moved… well, anywhere they’ve wanted to move. A lot of people have gone rural. It’s going to be really hard to persuade them to come back. (It’s sort of the opposite of, “How will you keep them down on the farm, now that they’ve seen ‘Paree’?”)
And now that I’m more aware of virus vectors, I don’t see myself ever being as comfortable going to large concert venues again. Don’t get me wrong. I miss live performances. I just don’t miss sharing my airspace with a thousand strangers.
I’ll never get used to being crammed into a crowded elevator or subway again. When people cough, I’ll feel a flashing red alert inside my head. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy long air flights again. (But then, they’ve been going down hill since the 80’s, anyway.)
Now, when I forget my mask, I don’t get very far. I feel naked and exposed and vulnerable. I’m horrified. I turn right back around and I get it. I think it will take more than a minute for me to get past that feeling.
I suspect that this virus has changed us in ways that we have yet to see. Personally, I’ve enjoyed not having a single solitary cold all year long. I wouldn’t mind continuing to wear a mask in more crowded places if I could stay on that path.
I suspect, at a bare minimum, a certain percentage of us will continue to wear masks, at least some of the time. I also suspect that those of us who do are going to get bullied for it by various factions. But we are living in a different world now, and that’s just a hard fact.
These are my predictions. What do you think? In any event, time will tell.
Normally, she doesn’t look like this. Normally, her outer beauty isn’t this battered and bruised. You can still see the inner beauty, though, shining through her eyes. Look closely. Note her intelligence, her sense of humor, and her indomitable spirit. In her late 70’s, she still has a zest for life that I’ve come to love and admire since we first became friends through my blog about 8 years ago.
I’ll let her describe how she came to look like this.
“On Monday about 1PM it was bright and sunny, a beautiful day. I stopped just across the FL/GA line to get gas. I was thinking about the good times I had had with my family at Disney, and wishing I had a few more days with them.
“Well, the pump wouldn’t give me a receipt, so I headed inside to get a copy. Returning to my car, I lost my footing on the curb, and down I went. In slow-mo, I saw the sidewalk coming up to kiss me, and I heard the sickening sound of a hard-boiled egg being crushed on the counter, but it was my nose. PAIN unimaginable.
“There were 3 or 4 people pumping gas. I lay there maybe 2 minutes, checking mentally each part of my body to make sure nothing was broken, and if I was bleeding. Not one person made a move to see if they could help or even ask, “Are you okay?”
“So I went inside and the two employees asked all the right questions, offered any assistance and generally made me feel better. I hung around for an hour to make sure I wasn’t going to risk my life or anyone else’s life, then headed home.
“I accidentally missed a turn in Atlanta and couldn’t find my way back on the interstate. I stopped at a Jiffy store to ask for directions and the man started smiling real big. By the time he got the directions out of his mouth, he was choking, trying not to get out a full blown belly laugh.
“Back on the road home, after driving about 10 hours, I pulled into a hotel. I spoke to someone through a teller window to ask for the cheapest rate. She had this big smirk. $89.99. I said, “That’s your cheapest price?” So I drove all the way home.
“I got home at 1:45 am. I am assuming that all the people’s reactions to me were because they thought that I was an abused woman on the run.”
Personally, I’m horrified to know that multiple people left my dear friend lying on the pavement and no one did a thing to help her up or check on her.
Recently, my husband and I saw a woman fall in a parking lot and we stopped our car to get out and see if she was okay. My husband helped her up, brushed her off, and made sure she was not in need of an ambulance before we left. Isn’t that what a normal, decent person would do? And yet I’ll never forget that 20 years ago my 92-year-old neighbor once lay on the sidewalk with a broken wrist for two hours as numerous people walked right past her.
So the fact that no one went to Carole’s aid isn’t that unusual. People just can’t seem to be bothered to do the right thing anymore. It sickens me. And the idea that people found her condition funny, that there was no empathy for her situation whatsoever, disgusts me to the very marrow of my being.
Is there no compassion left in this world? Don’t we give a fig about our fellow man anymore? What has caused such a lack of humanity? How do we get it back?
I’m ashamed of the human race right now.
By the way, Carole says she’s feeling much better. I’m glad to hear it. But it should have gone much differently. Lest we forget, we all fall down sometimes.
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Recently, a buck was spotted in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was in the street, walking in circles, visibly bleeding, completely unaware of people, and it had something weird in its eyes. Animal control was immediately called.
The poor little buck was dispatched right away, because it was quite obviously beyond saving. An autopsy showed it had epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and the high fever therefrom was what was causing the disorientation. But that wasn’t the deer’s only challenge. It was totally and completely blind. It had probably been desperately dependent upon its mother for its first year, more so than other deer, and somehow it had been stumbling around alone for the last 6 months of its life.
But this deer wasn’t just plain old blind. It had corneal dermoids. Because of that, he had hair growing out of both his eyeballs, completely blocking his ability to see. Hairy eyeballs.
Honest to God. I couldn’t stand the sight of the pictures in this article about it, but if you’re interested, they’re quite, um… hairy. Nature can be very strange sometimes.
Needless to say, this had me reading up on dermoid cysts. Thank goodness they’re very rare. Apparently they can be found in humans, too, and have also been seen in dogs and cows. Check out this detailed description in Wikipedia if you’re curious, but be advised that it, too, contains some icky photos.
Basically, dermoid cysts are caused in utero, when cells get trapped in the skin as the baby grows, and instead of developing into what it should develop into, such as an eyeball or an ovary, or brain, sinus, scrotum or pharynx tissue, they go haywire and produce skin, hair, sweat glands, and even nails, teeth or cartilage. In very odd places.
How horrifying. The good news is that they’re usually non-cancerous. The bad news is you might go through life scaring small children if the cyst can’t safely be removed.
Imagine having a tooth coming out of your nose, or a fingernail growing out of your scrotum. I’ll probably lose a great deal of sleep over that concept. It is the stuff of nightmares.
I’m glad that poor deer is now wandering in the great forest in the sky. His quality of life in Knoxville, however lovely that city can be, was sorely lacking. Rest in peace, buddy.
Having just received my first dose of the Moderna COVID Vaccine, I realize that I’ve got so many disjointed thoughts on the subject that are bubbling up to the surface that it’s time to set them free.
First of all, so far, so good. I didn’t even feel the shot going in. Now, a day later, the injection site feels a little bruised, as if someone had given me a noogie. No big deal. And no other side effects. I’ll take a noogie over a horrible death, gasping for air, like a carp on a sidewalk, any day. Of course, your results may vary.
I was really impressed by how well the King County Public Health System is handling this herculean task. My vaccination site was a hockey stadium down the street from my house. I was able to book the appointment online, and I was in and out in 20 minutes. That includes the 15 minutes, post shot, that they made me sit there to make sure I had no adverse effects. They operated like a well oiled machine. Registration, vaccination paperwork, shot, post shot observation. Every single person was professional, patient, kind, and willing to answer questions. There was more staff on hand than patients, and they were cranking out the vaccines at lightning speed.
There is no charge for the vaccine here in the US, and if you get it at a doctors office, and your visit was only for the vaccine, you will not be charged for the visit, either. I can’t speak for other countries, of course.
Yes, I fully intend to continue to do the right thing and wear masks and socially distance until this pandemic is just a bad memory. It’s the responsible thing to do. And it also means you’re being a role model for others. Those who are refusing to do the same are being selfish and irresponsible.
I would like to point out that it’s important to be patient. There are a lot of vulnerable people out there who are getting vaccinated first. But if you can get vaccinated, please do so, for all of us. The sooner this public health crisis is addressed, the safer we all will be.
I am mildly frustrated that I see so many people online interrogating people who have had the great good fortune to get the vaccine. Even if it’s simply that they happened to walk into a pharmacy just as it was closing, and said pharmacy didn’t want the vaccine to go to waste, why is our first instinct to say, “Why were you able to get it when I can’t yet?” rather than, “Lucky you!”
It’s nobody’s business what someone else’s risk factors are. And when anyone gets the vaccine, it should be grounds for all of us to celebrate. The more people are vaccinated, the fewer people will get the virus, so it’s reducing your risk of getting COVID, too. That’s nothing but a good thing. So instead of quizzing people as to their status, give them three cheers.
And, lest we forget, let’s give all the front line workers three cheers for making the distribution of this vaccine even possible. These folks are half killing themselves so that we don’t die. That’s pretty darned heroic, if you ask me.
There are a lot of really wild rumors flying around about the vaccine. I can’t address them all here. Here’s an article that debunks a lot of common vaccine myths, which is not directed specifically at the COVID vaccine, but it will give you some idea about the foolishness that abounds.
Oh, but I have to talk about this one. If you think that the virus contains the foreskin of aborted male babies, or any version of that, you’re completely devoid of critical thinking skills. We’re giving out more than a million vaccines a day at this point. There’s not enough foreskin to go around. Trust me. I’ve done the math. And it would be a logistical nightmare to obtain said foreskin, and that would be impossible to hide from the public. I can’t even believe that there is a need for me to write this paragraph. I’m doing it for the lunatic fringe out there who are gullible enough to believe such absurdities.
And if you had been through that fast moving, efficient vaccination factory that I went through, you’d know that these millions of medical professionals aren’t conspiring against you to poison you or fill you with microchips. They’re too busy saving lives. Nor do they have time to suss out whether you’re a member of a minority to then inject you with poison or whatever outlandish thought you may be having along those lines. There’s no time for that, nor should there ever be.
Sheesh, people, look at the science.
And if you do get your first dose of the vaccine, follow through and get your second dose. Otherwise it has been wasted on your selfish butt when someone else who is really taking this seriously could have had it. I will say that I am more nervous about the second shot. In my very unscientific query of friends and family who have gotten these vaccines, none of them have mentioned having much problem with the first shot, but about a third of them felt like crap for about a day and a half after the second. No fun. But still, I maintain, it’s better than death.
Here’s a big one, so I will shout it: THE VACCINATION DOES NOT CONTAIN COVID. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO GET COVID FROM THE VACCINE. If you’re interested in how vaccines can be made to fight COVID without using actual COVID, check out this fascinating explanation of the Pfizer vaccine process. Nary a foreskin is required. Imagine that.
I will leave you with one last thought. When I got vaccinated, I actually got a little choked up. Tears in my eyes, for real. That’s because it has been one long scary year, and my life has only truly gotten good in the last six years, so I’d really, really like to stick around for as long as I can and enjoy more of it. As the needle entered my arm, I was thinking, “This shot is giving me a shot at living.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to science, and so relieved, in my entire life. I’m kind of proud of myself for not having a big old ugly cry right then and there.
My whole life, I’ve been warned about the impending doom of the population explosion. Movies like Soylent Green, where human beings were such a cheap commodity that they were scooped up into dump trucks when they rioted for food, didn’t help. I was expecting starvation, overcrowding, wars, pollution, misery, and death.
This threat of decreasing nature, increasing growth is one of the many reasons I chose to be childfree. I have absolutely no regrets about that to this day. (Sorry to disappoint the hundreds of people who said, “You’ll change your mind,” over the course of my life.)
A lot of that has to do with women becoming more educated and empowered and having more access to birth control and delaying marriages. According to the article, in order to maintain population stability, each woman has to average 2.1 children. But in many places, this is no longer happening. Not even close.
Birthrates are actually down to 0.84 children per woman in South Korea. They’re in extreme decline in Japan and Germany, too. It’s down to 1.65 children per woman in England and Wales, and 1.37 children per woman in Scotland. The birthrate is below sustainability in Thailand and Brazil, too. Iran is so freaked out by their birthrate that they are preventing their state clinics from giving vasectomies or handing out birth control.
The article goes on to say that our global population is now 7.67 billion, and at our current rate, we should hit our peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, and drop back down to 8.79 billion by 2100. It said that by that time, the populations of Spain, Italy, and Ukraine will be half of their current number, and China should be down by 48 percent.
This kind of decline will put a strain on economies, as the average age of populations goes up. There will eventually be more houses than people to put in them. That’s already the case in Japan. (Glad my dear husband isn’t a realtor there!)
As people are moving to the cities and more rural areas become abandoned, forests and wildlife are returning. Bears, wolves, lynx, and wolverines are rebounding. Wild boar and deer are also on the increase.
In Southern Spain, there are now more than 3,000 ghost towns up in the hills. The forest area has tripled in that country since the 1900’s. As there are fewer people to feed, there will be fewer farms, and those fields quickly become overgrown.
And this article makes no mention of the pandemic. As of this writing, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus page, 2,436,173 people have died so far worldwide. That does not even take into account the many more that go unreported. That actual figure could be as much as 4 times higher. Many of these are people who haven’t had children, and their nonexistent children certainly won’t be procreating, either. So how will that speed this process along? It’s too soon to tell, as it will get a lot worse before it gets better.
Setting aside (If that’s even possible…) the horror and tragedy that this pandemic is visiting upon us as we lose loved ones, personally, a planet with more wildlife and forests is quite appealing to me. We’ll figure out how to cope with the economic strain. We’ll have no choice.
Either way, I anticipate that the world is going to look a lot different 150 years from now. And I maintain that that’s not a bad thing. It sure beats Soylent Green.
The article listed the following traits that have been linked to Neanderthal DNA: Fertility, how we feel pain, immune system functionality, skin tone, hair color, height, sleep patterns, depression, addiction, the chance of being more severely ill when infected by COVID-19, decrease in miscarriages and bleeding while pregnant, hair color, baldness, and the skin’s capacity to tan.
Some of these traits I’m sure most of us could do without, while others would be most welcome. Unfortunately, you don’t get to pick and choose your DNA. I was amused that the article stressed, quite adamantly, that we should not blame Neanderthals for these connections. And of course you can have these traits without your Neanderthal ancestors being the source. So yeah, don’t go blaming them.
As if Neanderthals were around to be insulted. Come on. They’re beyond societal backlash.
But, okay. No hard feelings, ancestor! I’m sure you did your best. Thanks for making me me.
Yeah, face masks fog up your glasses and make it a tiny bit harder to breathe. Yeah, some fools think they violate their rights, or that they send some form of political message. (Such as, “I care about your life?” Beats me.) Yes, it’s a pain when you forget to wear one and have to go back to your car or house to get it. And I haven’t seen the bottom half of the faces of my friends in so long I’ve forgotten how they look. But I’m beginning to realize that there are quite a few upsides to face masks.
For example, it suddenly occurred to me today that I haven’t gotten my annual nasty winter cold. I’ve come to resign myself to it every year, but so far, knock on wood, I’ve gotten off scot free. No complaints here! (And I haven’t had the flu in decades because I get the vaccine every year.) I may have to wear masks every Autumn and Winter from here on out.
I’ve discovered other benefits as well. Masks keep your face warm when it’s cold outside. I’ve also been using one to hide an unsightly pimple on my nose for the past week. Bonus points! And I can stick my tongue out at people I don’t like and get away with it. It’s very satisfying.
I never thought, this time last year, that I’d have a favorite mask or an obscene collection of masks, but I do. How quickly fashions change. How quickly priorities change.
Of course, the primary upside to face masks is their ability to protect those around you from this deadly pandemic. That alone should be all the reason one needs to wear one. Personally, I’ll move heaven and earth to avoid killing people, but that’s just me.
During a recent rainy, late night commute home, I found myself on a deserted street. It felt like I was the only person alive (or at least awake) on earth. I looked up just as a digital billboard, perched high above a used car lot, was changing images. Suddenly, looking down at me as a beautiful yet somber face of a woman in an old-fashioned nursing outfit. The caption said, “Mary Eliza Mahoney, First African American nurse.”
I was intrigued. This was the first I’d heard of this amazing woman. Her presence made me feel less alone on that cold, wet road. I still had a few miles to go to get home, but the whole drive I kept repeating Mary Eliza Mahoney, so I’d remember her name long enough to Google her. It’s a good name. A substantial name.
When I got to my nice, warm, dry house, I changed into my fuzzy jammies (“Mary Eliza Mahoney, Mary Eliza Mahoney…”) sat in my recliner with my snuggly dachshund ensconced on my lap, and I Googled. The first thing I learned was that there are very few images of Ms. Mahoney. The one below is the same one that was on the billboard. She looks so young, and so determined. Given that she was born in 1845, though, limited photographs are par for the course.
She was born near Boston to freed slaves who had come up from North Carolina before the American Civil War, hoping to live somewhere with less racial discrimination. I suspect they instilled that strong desire in their child. She attended one of the first integrated schools in the country, through the 4th grade. She was 15 when the civil war started, and she saw the need and the value of nurses during that conflict. She decided at age 18 that she wanted to be a nurse. The war didn’t end until she was 20 years old. That part of history must have been extremely formative for her.
Her pursuit of nursing didn’t take a straight line, but you can tell that it always remained her goal. At 18, She got a job at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, and worked there for 15 years. As a janitor. And a cook. And a maid. And a washerwoman. She worked 16 hours a day.
Finally she was able to become a nurse’s aide. Then, at the age of 33, she was admitted to a new program, the first in the nation, that that very hospital had started to train nurses. Although it was easier for African American women to pursue higher education in the North than in the South, it was still rare. It is expected that she was admitted to the program due to her 15 year relationship with that institution.
The 16 month program was grueling to say the least. She attended 12 hours of lectures a day, and got another 4 hours of hands on experience. Then she became a private duty nurse, in charge of six patients on the various wards. She got 1 to 4 dollars a week for that, a portion of which was returned to the hospital for tuition. Of the 44 women that started the program, they began dropping by the wayside one by one, including Mary’s sister. In the end, there were 4 graduates, and Mary was one of those. In 1879, she became the first African American registered nurse in the nation. I hope her parents lived to see that.
She decided to avoid public nursing, because there was a lot of discrimination there. Oddly enough, she preferred being a private nurse in the homes of wealthy white families. She developed an excellent reputation for being efficient, patient, and caring. At the time, many African American nurses were treated as though they were servants rather than trained professionals, so she tended to avoid the staff, eating alone in the kitchen.
As a successful nurse, her goal then became to abolish discrimination in nursing, and toward that end, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1909, and was the keynote speaker at their first convention. The association’s goal was to support and recognize the accomplishments of outstanding nurses, particularly those who were minorities.
After decades as a private nurse, she became the director of the Howard Orphanage Asylum for black children, and remained so until 1912. She retired from nursing after 40 years, which is even more impressive when you consider that she didn’t graduate from nursing school until she was in her early 30’s.
In her retirement, she focused on women’s suffrage, and in 1920, she was one of the first women to register to vote in Boston. She died of breast cancer, after a 3 year battle, when she was 80. That was in 1926, a little over a year before my mother was born. (Ma would have turned 94 today. Waving skyward.)
Mary Eliza Mahoney was obviously a determined, goal-oriented, hard-working, strong, intelligent woman. I would have been proud to know her. There may not be many photographs of her, but she certainly has made her mark.