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Did You Know? You can Help Bees

“Did you know that bees need a  water source?” asks Laryssa, an artistic young Servas guest who at the time we met her kept bee hives on the roof of the building where she rented her apartment in Philadelphia.  That winter, her bees froze to death; then she moved to Hawaii.  She is a great source for bee information.   August 17 was National Honeybee Day in the U.S. In recognition of the fact that bees are extremely necessary for us, here are some of Laryssa’s ideas to keep bees cool in the summer and ideas from others of what else we can do to help bees.

Laryssa says, “Bees gather water and bring it to the hive in order to cool it down. They don’t drink water because nectar is mostly water. When bees bring water to the hive, they spray it onto the frames in the hive. Other bees fan their wings. This essentially creates air conditioning that cools the hive. The baby bees are very sensitive to the temperature, so the hive cannot get too warm or too cold.

Alternative ways to create a water source for bees are wine corks floating in a container of water or just drape a towel over the side and let some of the towel touch the water. The problem with these bee water sources is that you’re creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so it can be tricky.

Or if you have a pool, you can  put a small towel over the pool edge so that it slightly touches the water.  Then the bees at least won’t drown trying to get to the water. They definitely do not want salt water, but they’ll take whatever they can find.

Here is what Carol Ann said recently on Nextdoor (a community web site):
,
“Bee Water Cooler!

Aloha All ~

After the first fire [we’ve had over 10,000 acres burn this summer on Maui], I noticed bees hovering around our pool. I learned that these bees are tasked with bringing water back to the hives. I rescued many from drowning as they fell into the pool. Unfortunately some also drown.

The ‘aina [Hawaiian term literally means ‘that which feeds’] is very dry now and thousands of acres have been destroyed by fires, so every day the numbers of thirsty bees are increasing.

I researched how best to provide bees with water (so I could stop playing lifeguard!).

Please consider providing our honey-making friends the water they need (and keep them from drowning in your pool). All you have to do is get a shallow pan (pictured here is a plastic pan used under potted plants), fill it with gravel and a few larger stones, add water and VOILA – you have a bee water cooler! The bees need to be able to stand on the gravel to drink, so don’t cover the stones all the way.

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Friend Mary’s Bee Water Cooler

Carol Ann continued, “I set my Bee Water Cooler next to the corner of the pool where they were already drinking in an attempt to lure them away from this dangerous (for them) spot.

P.S. These bees are not aggressive and I have not been stung once.”

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My simple bee water cooler

Bees land on Bob’s swimming suit when he hangs it out to dry.

Also a CNN story gives “Seven Simple Ways to Help Bees”. https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/17/us/national-honeybee-day-tips-save-bees-trnd/index.html

CNN reminds us, “People owe a lot to bees — namely, many of the foods we enjoy, like strawberries, avocados and broccoli. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that every 1 in 3 bites of food exists because of animal pollinators, and bees lead the charge.”

190208095256-honeybee-on-flower-exlarge-169

Photo from CNN article).

What each of us does matters – for the bees and more.

It’s likely a Bee Water Cooler would help bees where you live.

Do you have other good ideas to help bees?  Please share them.

Aloha, Renée

Banner photo by Behzad Ghaffarian on Unsplash.com

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Did You Know?

“Did you know that poor diets kill millions worldwide?  Diets lacking whole grains and fruit and high in processed meats, trans fats and sugary drinks may be responsible for one-fifths of all deaths.  That makes poor diet the biggest risk factor in the world.”

This conclusion is from a Global Burden of Disease study tracking dietary factors from 1990-2017 in 195 countries, conducted by researchers at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, published in The Lancet. Seen in BottomLine Personal, July 15, 2019. p. 13.

A Maui News cartoon from: https://politicalcartoons.com/sku/226505/

The ingested plastic microfibers aren’t helping us.

Please choose wisely — what you eat, what you use . . .

Do you have tested health advice that has worked for you?

Aloha, Renée

 

“Leaking Jet Fuel Threatens Hawaii . . .” by Ann Wright

It’s time for the U.S. military to retire the leaking Red Hill
Storage tanks—and protect our precious water supply
By Ann Wright
    After the big North Korean missile scare in Hawaii a
year ago, one would think that missiles are the greatest
threat to the island of Oahu. Yet, it’s not missiles that are
the threat, it’s our own U.S. military and its massive jet
fuel storage tanks that are leaking into Oahu’s drinking
water aquifer.
    A complex of mammoth 20-story military jet fuel
storage tanks buried 20 stories down in a bluff called
Red Hill is perched only 100 feet above Honolulu’s water
supply. The walls on the 75-year-old jet fuel tanks are
now so thin that the edge of a dime is thicker. Each of the
20 tanks holds 12.5 million gallons of jet fuel, although
18 are in operation now. Two-hundred and twenty-five
million gallons of jet fuel are a mere 100 feet from
causing a catastrophic disaster for the island of Oahu.
    Disaster struck in 2014, when 27,000 gallons of jet fuel
leaked from a tank that had been repaired with a welded
patch. The welding gave way and tens of thousands of
gallons of fuel leaked into the water supply. Studies have
documented leaks dating back to 1947, the continued
corrosion of the tank liners, and the risk of a catastrophic
fuel release.
    Concerned citizens on the island have been trying
for decades to get the U.S. Navy remove the dangerous
tanks. The military states that the underground fuel tanks
are of strategic importance to national security and they
are being maintained as well as 75-year old tanks can
be. Yet those who live on Oahu say: “That’s not good
enough! You can’t have national security by jeopardizing
the health security of your citizens.”
    It is not surprising that the Navy has made little effort
to remove the tanks and put replacements in a less
dangerous place. The military’s hold on the island of
Oahu and its politicians is strong both psychologically
and economically. Oahu is filled with military bases and
accompanying corporations that supply the military with
equipment and services.
    Hawaii is one of the most militarized states in the
nation and Oahu is one of the most militarized islands
with seven major bases and a total of 36,620 military
personnel.
    When the 64,000 military family members and military
contractors are added to the active-duty military, the
military-industrial complex on Oahu numbers about
100,000, 10 percent of Oahu’s total population of 988,000.
The state of Hawaii has only 1.4 million citizens.
    Construction of the military installations on the island
of Oahu began soon after the overthrow of the sovereign
nation of Hawaii by U.S. businessmen and a small
contingent of U.S. Marines:
• Pearl Harbor Naval Base, headquarters of the U.S.
Pacific Fleet Navy and homeport for 25 warships, 15
attack submarines, nine guided-missile destroyers, and
a guided-missile cruiser;
• Hickam Air Force Base, headquarters of the U.S.
Pacific Air Forces, with squadrons of F-15s, F22, C-17
and B-2 bombers;
• Kaneohe Marine Base, with a Marine Air Station
and three Marine regiments;
• Schofield Barracks, home to the 25th Infantry
Division;
• The Tropic Regions Test Center (TRTC);
• Camp Smith, headquarters of the United Indo-Pacific
Command (responsible for all U.S. military activity in
the greater Asia and Pacific region including India) and
headquarters of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific;
• Fort Shafter, headquarters for the U.S. Army Pacific;
• Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a military
educational facility for military and civilian officials
from Asia and the Pacific;
• Tripler Army Medical Center and Veterans
Administration Medical Center;
• U.S. Coast Guard 14th District for the Pacific (while
not part of the Department of Defense, during wartime,
the Coast Guard can go under command of DOD), which
includes three 225-foot buoy tenders, four 110-foot
patrol boats, two 87-foot coastal patrol boats, four small
boat stations, two sector commands, an air station, a Far
East command, five detachments, and over 400 aids to
navigation.
    Major military installations have been built on other
islands of Hawaii. The Puhakaloa Training Area, the
largest U.S. military training area in the world with
133,000 acres for artillery, mortar, small arms and crew-
served weapons firing, is located on the Big Island of
Hawaii. Air Force bombers flying from the continental
United States drop ordnance on the area between the two
volcanoes of the island of Hawaii.
    On the island of Kauai, the Pacific Missile Range
Facility Barking Sands (PMRF) is the world’s largest
range capable of supporting surface, submarines, aircraft,
and space operations simultaneously. PMRF has over
1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range
and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.
The Navy is currently using PMRF to test “hit to kill”
technology in which anti-ballistic missiles destroy their
targets by using only the kinetic energy from the force
of the collision. The Navy’s Aegis Ballistic Missile
Defense System and the Army’s Terminal High Altitude
Area Defense System, or THAAD, are tested on Kauai
at PMRF.
    On the island of Maui, the Maui High Performance
Computing Center, a Department of Defense Super
-computing Resource Center managed by the Air Force
Research Laboratory, provides DoD scientists and
engineers with one of the world’s largest computers to
solve war-making computational problems.
    [And recently, the U.S. Navy announced plans to expand its ship-to-ship,
ship-to-shore, above water, below water, and on-shore trainings
throughout Hawaii state and Southern California.  See my earlier blog
with excerpts from the published Navy plans].
    According to the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce,
the direct and indirect economic impacts of military
expenditures in Hawaii bring $14.7 billion into
Hawaii’s economy, creating more than 102,000 jobs.
The military’s investments in Hawaii total $8.8 billion.
Military procurement contracts amount to about $2.3
billion annually, making it a prime source of contracting
opportunities for hundreds of Hawaii’s small businesses,
including significant military construction projects.
    The influence of the military in the Hawaiian islands and
on its politicians at all levels cannot be underestimated,
nor can the protection the military is given by its retirees
and the citizens who benefit from it. The pressure on city
and state officials to accept the status quo is very strong.
    Finally, the U.S. government has acknowledged the
medical problems the contamination of the drinking
supply caused in another community—the huge U.S.
Marine Base at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air
Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina. From
1953 through 1987, tens of thousands of Marines and
their families were contaminated by two on-base water
wells that were contaminated with trichloroethylene
(TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), benzene, and vinyl
chloride, among other compounds from leaking storage
tanks on the base and and an off-base dry cleaner.
    The Veterans Administration has acknowledged the
dangerous situation on the bases in North Carolina that
was ignored for decades. The VA has declared that a large
number of diseases are caused by the chemicals and that
military personnel and their family members who have
contracted these diseases and who are still living will be
compensated. We can expect the same type of diseases
with the continuing leaks at Red Hill.
    On the other side of the country from North Carolina,
the Navy has already closed down one complex of
underground jet fuel storage tanks at Point Loma, Calif.,
which had 54 storage tanks. The riveted seams on the
underground tanks began leaking as they aged. When
1.5 million gallons of fuel spilled from the site in 2006,
the U.S. Navy decided to replace the tanks.
    For us on Oahu, the bottom line is that when, not if,
the massive jet fuel storage tanks leak into the aquifer
of Honolulu, city, state, and federal officials must be
held accountable—the public has given them plenty of
warning of their concerns. As with lead in the water
supply in Flint, Mich., officials knew that the drinking
water was contaminated but didn’t do anything to stop
the community from using it. Remarkably, no Flint
officials have gone to jail yet, but the community is
demanding accountability for malfeasance in office—
which will also happen in Honolulu when the jet fuel
storage tank disaster strikes.
    Why, we citizens ask our elected leaders, do they allow
such a disaster to continue to threaten our water supply
in Honolulu when we know that 75-year-old tanks with
corroding walls are continuing to leak . . . “
vfplogo-high-res
Please speak up.

Aloha, Renée

Reprinted from:  Peace in Our Times  – <peaceinourtimes.org> V5N2—Spring 2019, p. 17.

Banner photo: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/02/08/north-korean-missiles-are-not-threat-hawaii-its-our-own-us-militarys-leaking-jet

From:  https://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00048021/00019

Sally

Sally, a 70+ year-old student in one of my Maui College English classes years ago, took my class for fun and then left in the middle of the semester to go backpacking by herself in Arizona – neither (leaving in the middle of the semester nor backpacking by herself) probably a good idea. Taking the English class, of course, was an excellent choice. Coming back in time to save her good grade, she was an inspiration then, and is a great model for us now.

In a recent FB message, Sally said:

“I am having more fun each day than in any previous time of my life. No worries, no obligations. Lots of music, lots of friends and family. Free to have whims. I try new things at restaurants. I reach out to people more than I did before. Objective reality says I am old, sick, and feeble, but I claim the identity of “I am young, strong, and healthy”. I don’t want to celebrate my 90th birthday next January because I am really only 21. 😀

Go Sally, go.

And we don’t have to wait until we are 89 to act this way.

Go have some fun today whatever your age.

Aloha, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: “The Danger of Glyphosate”

A note to Dr. Kris, the Garden Doctor:

‘Hi, I read about the $289 million court case and the glyphosate Roundup, what are the best ways to kill weeds without weed killer? Seems you just can’t stop the weeds in the tropics, just in the home garden and around the paths. Please help.

Thank you in advance. Lucas, UBUD.’

In August, a US Court ordered global chemical giant Monsanto pay $US 289 million to a former school gardener who is dying of cancer, after a jury in California found Roundup (which contains glyphosate) contributed to his illness. They will be appealing of course.

In 2015, the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, the IARC, stated that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic, yet just last year the European Union decided to renew the licence for the official use of glyphosate. In the aftermath of the US court case, Monsanto has maintained that its product was an “effective and safe tool for farmers and others”. Hmmm?

The result of the recent court case and linkages to glyphosate came as no surprise to many.

I wrote an article on the dangers of gylphosate in 2015, which can be found at – www.baliadvertiser.biz/glyphosate/.

Unfortunately, many are still in the dark to the undeniable dangers. Scientific evidence has shown that glyphosate can cause or accelerate cancer rates. People are spraying it around the environment and it is all over your food. Despite the fact that the dangers of Roundup are gradually becoming well-known, uncovered and exposed by various segments of the community – it still remains in heavy use around the world.

Many are still unaware of the serious health issues attributed to glyphosate, although it has been banned in many places around the world.

Roundup in conjunction with science has given rise to a global industry of genetically modified food. GM food crops like corn and soybean have been designed with glyphosate resistance in mind. Fields are sprayed, weeds controlled and at the same time the crop is left standing. It simplifies farming and weed control in exchange for food covered with Roundup. People are also wholesale spraying it around the garden, and local governments around their parklands and public green spaces too.

Interestingly, after sitting on the data from its glyphosate tests for more than a year, the FDA recently or rather finally made the results public. Tests found glyphosate on 63 percent of corn samples and 67 percent of soybean samples. As a further note of interest there were no oat or wheat samples, the two main crops where glyphosate is used as a pre-harvest drying agent, resulting in glyphosate contamination of foods.

The reported health risks associated with glyphosate exposure has farmers, groundskeepers and gardeners scrambling to find alternatives. Glyphosate is so widely used that traces of the of it have been found in breast milk, beer, wine (even when made with organic grapes), eggs, oatmeal and non-dairy coffee creamer, among other products.

There are also environmental impacts on groundwater, rivers, streams, and oceans, glyphosate has even been detected in rainfall samples. Then there’s the issue of poisons in the food chain.

For the home gardener the best alternatives are to pull the weeds, or if it’s a larger area dig out the entire garden bed, turn the soil and start again. If you spray Roundup everywhere you’ll still have to pull the dead weeds out in the end anyway. Mulch garden beds regularly or grow creeping groundcovers. Mulch with cardboard, newspaper, leaves, straw, wood chips, pebbles, stones etc. Use a sharp hoe, garden fork, or shovel to hand weed, or go for the more permanent solution of installing a weed suppressant membrane.

Manual removal with a shovel, hoe or other tool is an effective spot treatment for most weeds. They may come back and need to be dug out again. When young weeds are caught early and thoroughly dug out, they won’t be able to re-seed and rapidly reproduce.

Experiment with dense ground covers which can naturally prevent weeds from growing underneath. Get creative and use dense low growing flowers or even herbs as ground cover. Culinary herbs such as parsley, mint, thyme or oregano are useful choices which can effectively form a carpet around the base of plants in sparse garden beds. If you’re battling weeds in your lawn, make sure you use grass varieties appropriate for shade, drought or other difficult areas where a conventional lawn might not grow well.

For weeds growing in pavement and cracks, boiling water poured straight from the kettle usually does the job. For any other general weed killing areas using commercial strength vinegar is a proven effective. Commercial grade would normally come with an acetic acid concentration of 20% strength. Normal household vinegar at 5-10% will usually do the job on smaller weeds, but for an effective job on larger hardier ones you’ll need a commercial grade vinegar at around 20% min.

The vinegar will probably be more effective on a hot sunny day. It biodegrades easily, effectively a non-toxic approach to spot killing weeds in opposition to commercial, synthetic and chemical formulas. Vinegar still always needs to be handled with care, so avoid inhaling it or getting it in your eyes. Don’t stand on the wrong side of the wind!

In addition to avoiding toxic sprays, by growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs you will be feeding yourself with the healthiest produce possible free of potential toxins. Buying organic or growing your own is always going to be the best choice when it comes to your food and avoiding toxic chemicals.

Key findings of an Investigative Report into pesticides and produce from EWG (source: www.ewg.org) found that:

  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides a piece.

It was reported in August 2018 that tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate residues on many popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars. Almost three-fourths of the 45 samples tested had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health within an adequate margin of safety.

All you need to know is that glyphosate has been linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization.

 

Dr. Kris

Garden Doctor

Contact: dr.kris@ymail.com

 Copyright © 2018 Dr. Kris

You can read all past articles of Garden Doctor at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz

https://www.baliadvertiser.biz/the-danger-of-glyphosate/

Aloha, Renee

Book: “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”

The small book by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles shares advice from the residents of the Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds in the world.  In addition to the wisdom about purposeful, active, shared lives of these seniors, the authors note the importance of  the Japanese concepts of wabi-sabi and ichi-go ichi-e.

“Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of the fleeting, changeable, and imperfect nature of the world around us.  Instead of searching for beauty in perfection, we should look for it things that are flawed, incomplete.

This is why the Japanese place such value, for example, on an irregular or cracked teacup.  Only things that are imperfect, incomplete, and ephemeral can truly be beautiful, because only those things resemble the natural world.

A complementary Japanese concept is that of ichi-go ichi-e, which could be translated as ‘This moment exists only now and won’t come again.’ It is heard most often in social gatherings as a reminder that each encounter –whether with friends, family, or strangers–is unique and will never be repeated, meaning that we should enjoy the moment and not lose ourselves in worries about the past or the future.

The concept is commonly used in tea ceremonies, Zen meditation, and Japanese martial arts, all of which place emphasis on being present in the moment.

In the West, we’ve grown accustomed to the permanence of the stone buildings and cathedrals of Europe, which sometimes gives us the sense that nothing changes, making us forget about the passage of time.  Greco-Roman architecture adores symmetry, sharp lines, imposing facades, and buildings and statues of the gods that outlast the centuries.

Japanese architecture, on the other hand, doesn’t try to be imposing or perfect, because it is built in the spirit of wabi-sabi.  The tradition of making structures out of wood presupposes their impermanence and the need for future generations to rebuild them.  Japanese culture accepts the fleeting nature of the human being and everything we create.

The Grand Shrine of Ise, for example, has been rebuilt every twenty years for centuries.  The most important thing is not to keep the building standing for generations, but to preserve customs and traditions–things that can withstand the passage of time better than structures made by human hands.

The key is to accept that there are certain things over which we have no control, like the passage of time and the ephemeral nature of the world around us.

Ichi-go ichi-e teaches us to focus on the present and enjoy each moment that life brings usThis is why it is so important to find and pursue our ikigai  [a meaning and purpose in life that keeps you busy or as the New York Post says, “ ikigai is the art of doing something—and doing it with supreme focus and joy”].

ikigai-

Image page 9  of Ikigai – Based on a diagram by Mark Winn

 

Wabi-sabi teaches us to appreciate the beauty of imperfection as an opportunity for growth” . . .

One step in lasting longer and being happier in your life is –

Get rid of the things that make you fragile . . .

Ask yourself: What makes me fragile?  Certain people, things, and habits generate losses for us and make us vulnerable.  Who and what are they?

When we make our New Year’s resolutions, we tend to emphasize adding new challenges to our lives.  It’s great to have this kind of objective, but setting ‘good riddance’ goals can have an even bigger impact.  For example:

  • Stop snacking between meals
  • Eat sweets only once a week
  • Gradually pay off all debt
  • Avoid spending time with toxic people
  • Avoid spending time doing things we don’t enjoy, simply because we feel obligated to do them
  • Spend no more than twenty minutes on Facebook per day.

To build resilience into our lives, we shouldn’t fear adversity, because each setback is an opportunity for growth.  If we adopt an antifragile attitude, we’ll find a way to get stronger with every blow, refining our lifestyle and staying focused on our ikigai.

Taking a hit or two can be viewed as either a misfortune or an experience that we can apply to all areas of our lives, as we continually make corrections and set new and better goals.  As Taleb writes in Antifragile, ‘We need randomness, mess, adventures, uncertainty, self-discovery, near traumatic episodes, all these things that make life worth living.’  . . .

Life is pure imperfection, as the philosophy of wabi-sabi teaches us, and the passage of time shows us that everything is fleeting, but if you have a clear sense of your ikigai, each moment will hold so many possibilities that it will seem almost like an eternity”    (p. 172-179).

No matter your age, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life is likely to give you useful ideas on how to lead a good life.

Aloha, Renée

sunflower-vase

Enjoy the imperfect. 

 

 

 

Bali Dog – Bite – Rabies?

We returned to Bali.  We love being in Ubud where Barry is particularly disciplined, so we both got lots of exercise, ate good food, and enjoyed the music and the people. Barry  left on November 20; I was to leave on November 23.  My scheduled departure was on the last night before flights started to be cancelled because the Bali volcano, Mt. Agung, actually was erupting.  I was lucky about getting out, but my last day in Ubud was intense.

On that final morning, I was on my way to my Pilates class in Penestanan, just outside Ubud. I was peddling hard uphill.  Motorbikes zoomed past me.   I saw  a brown and tan  Bali dog at the side of the road.  Bali dogs are everywhere.  They are smart, good watch dogs, usually friendly; most are let loose to roam in the daytime.

This one came at me from behind and nipped my calf through my thin Bali pants.  I screamed.  He ran off.

I think he was just playing.  At first, I thought I was okay because it hadn’t really hurt.  I was more indignant that a dog would bite me since I like dogs and am not  afraid of them.   But when I stopped to look, I saw that he had broken the skin on my calf – two little puncture holes – and a bit of blood!  😦

And that is an issue – a Big issue – since rabies is a problem in Bali.

“Bali was rabies free until an infected dog arrived on a fishing boat in 2008.  Since then, over 150  people have died [on just that island] and many thousands of dogs have been killed in the attempt to eradicate the disease.”

adelle

Our Bali Dog – Adelle in 2016 with Barry at our Agus Ayu Guesthouse.  Adelle was friendly, a pleasure to have around: a normal Bali Dog.  During the day, she roamed Bisma Road.

This year when we returned to Ubud and stayed at the same guesthouse, Adelle was missing.  We asked about her.  Sadly, she is probably one of the many thousands of Bali Dogs picked up off the streets and killed in the attempt to rid Bali of rabies.  Many studies show that mass culling of animals is not effective; vaccinating them is.  We miss her.  😦

“The virus is still present in parts of Bali and is proving very difficult to eradicate completely due to the long incubation period of the disease. . .[which] in both humans and animals can range widely from two weeks up to several years (average 2-3 months), with the incubation period being shorter the nearer the entry point is to the central nervous system.  Therefore a bite to the face or neck has a much shorter incubation period than a bite to the foot.  Once the virus has reached the brain, it spreads to other sites such as the salivary glands” (8).

A-frequently-used-image-on-rabies-posters-300x225

A rabid dog

From: https://www.baliadvertiser.biz/what-is-rabies-and-is-my-pet-at-risk/

The Mayo Clinic notes, “Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal.. . .The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to the flu and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include: fever, headache, nausea, agitation, anxiety, hyperactivity, difficulty swallowing, hydrophobia, hallucinations, insomnia, partial paralysis.

From: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351821

Local Bali drivers sitting near their cars had seen that I had been bitten.  They said I definitely should get the rabies vaccinations.  At the Pilates class, some classmates said I should get the vaccinations; others said the dog probably wasn’t rabid and not to bother with the shots.    One expat showed me a photo of her friend’s bite that was much worse than the little one I’d gotten.  That bitten woman hadn’t gotten shots, and hadn’t (at least not yet) gotten rabies.  The problem is that once you get the rabies symptoms, there is nothing that can be done: you die – a really painful, gruesome death.  So should I take a chance?

After class, I peddled to the local clinic that I passed by every day on my way to and from class to check what I should do.  As recommended, I  scrubbed the wound with warm, sudsy water for 15 minutes, which is important to do for any puncture wound especially in the tropics.   The clinic technician said I definitely should get the shots since the dog had run away and so couldn’t be quarantined for 10 days to see if it did indeed have rabies.  But I would need about $100 U.S. to pay for the two vaccines I should get before flying out that night.    They only took cash.

After some confusion and much stress (and a long hour of peddling around, up and down hills, trying to get money at an ATM machine that would work – and my stomach cramping and me shaking – so I knew I had rabies and would die, I finally got the needed cash.  I returned to the  Bali clinic.

The clinic is clean, and the clinician efficient and knowledgeable, and like most local people in this tourist packed town, his English is good.  He gave me an almost painless shot in each arm, the paperwork I’d need to get reimbursed from my health insurance, and printed instructions about when I should get the two remaining shots.  I’m very happy to report that the anti-rabies vaccines are no longer the extremely painful ones given in the stomach.

I would just need to get two more when I got home to Maui at recommended times over the next month – and how hard could that be?

I came back more or less directly if you count a 13-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur and two other layovers (we go for the cheapest tickets) although not nearly so long in Osaka and Honolulu as directly.  Exposure to camels was the only thing U.S. quarantine was concerned about when I came through customs, and I could honestly answer that I’d had no problems with camels.

Barry and I are home, and it is good to be back.

Then I just needed to get two more rabies vaccinations at the recommended times.   I was back in “medically advanced” U.S.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, “Rabies is a very serious disease caused by a virus in all warm-blooded mammals, including humans. On the U.S. mainland, wild animals that are most often associated with rabies include skunks, foxes, raccoons, and bats. Human rabies is rare in the United States however; worldwide 65,000 to 87,000 deaths occur annually due to rabies primarily in Asia and Africa where prompt medical attention and preventive vaccinations are not readily available. Dogs are the most common source of infection of humans. . .

Human rabies cases in the United States are rare, with only 1 to 3 cases reported annually. Twenty-three cases of human rabies have been reported in the United States in the past decade (2008-2017). Eight of these were contracted outside of the U.S. and its territories.”

From: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/human_rabies.html

I landed on Maui on a Friday night.  I called my doctor as soon as the office opened the following morning and explained I had been bitten in Bali and needed two more shots.  The next one (it didn’t matter the brand)  was to be given the following Wednesday.

“No problem,” I was told and given an appointment for that Wednesday.   On Tuesday, my doctor’s office called to confirm.  On Wednesday, I arrived a few minutes early and was shown into the doctor’s examining room.  It turns out there was a problem.  They didn’t have the vaccine.  What!

I was then told:

1) insurance wouldn’t cover my shots – cost compared to Bali at U.S. $50. each would be $400 each (which says something about our for-profit pharmaceutical industry here in the U.S. -)

2) no rabies vaccinations were on the island, and

3) only one Maui pharmacy had the contract to procure the rabies vaccination.

I was told that I probably didn’t have rabies.  And the basis for that?  And if the doctor were wrong?   I was suddenly a bit worried.

rabicdc010

Man with rabies shackled to his hospital bed

Image from: http://www.vaccineinformation.org/photos/rabicdc010.jpg

I looked up “YouTube video of people with rabies.”  You do not want to see those images; you definitely don’t want any being to get rabies.  That video terrified me.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my doctor and the “designated rabies vaccine” pharmacy were rather clueless.  In our whole state of Hawaii, there has never been a case of rabies acquired here in humans or animals!

Friday morning, two days after I should have had my third shot, (and six days after I’d notified my doctor’s office that I needed the vaccines) I still hadn’t gotten the vaccine.  That morning the “designated pharmacy”  told me I should fly to the U.S. Mainland to get the last two shots.   What!!   We get over five million people flying into Maui every year; we have FedX, UPS, U.S. Postal Service.  They had had almost a week to get the vaccine here.  I was feeling rabid!

Barry said, “Okay – this is ridiculous; we are going to the doctor’s office.”   Things didn’t go well there.  I ended up yelling at the smirking nurse (who was to explain to the office manager what my doctor had done – or in this case, not done- to get me the vaccine).  Then  stomping out of the office,  I   screamed: “You are incompetent and unprofessional!!!”  Barry, being more mature,  stayed behind and made the point that he had been a patient of this doctor’s office for 30 years and that my situation was one of potential death for me.

Were there any heroes?

  1. Wailea Pharmacy.   Since it seemed I would get no medical help on Maui, Barry and I drove over to Wailea Pharmacy that Friday morning to see if Shelly,  our friend and the pharmacy co-owner, had any ideas.  She didn’t have the vaccine in stock, but she could get it.  She was very reassuring.   While we were talking, my doctor’s office called to say they had located the vaccine on island; we would just need to drive into town and bring the vaccine back to be administered that afternoon.  So my doctor’s office finally had done something!  And why was that?  Was it because of my screaming behavior that Friday morning?  Was it because Barry had appealed to their medical mission?
  2. ****Maui Clinic Pharmacy in Kahului!!!    This pharmacy  keeps the rabies vaccine in stock!  Not only that, the cost to me because  I have insurance was $30, not the $400 a shot that I’d been told.  For the fourth shot, I just went to the Maui Clinic Pharmacy.  The very competent, nice,  and knowledgeable pharmacist chatted with me and gave me an almost painless shot.
mt-maui-clinic-b-3-17-17-1100x810

Maui Clinic Pharmacy

Image from: http://s3.amazonaws.com/ogden_images/www.mauinews.com/images/2017/03/18034657/mt-maui-clinic-b-3-17-17-1100×810.j

What have I learned from this experience:

  1. Dogs can bite even if I’m not afraid of them.  I need to be more cautious.
  2. I should always have easy access to money.
  3. Because it’s a condition we don’t have on Maui, the medical people here in general don’t know what to do about rabies.  I should be grateful that rabies isn’t an issue here.
  4. In Bali, medical people know exactly what to do for dog bites,
  5. And this is sad – – maybe yelling does work.

No one has to worry about me biting them now – but I had felt like I might need to start biting a few people  to get some help.

Although my bite didn’t become infected or leave a scar — and I’m not going to get rabies —  on this same trip, I did get a scar from a moped carburetor burn, but that’s another story.  Sometimes, traveling can be interesting in ways you don’t expect.

Aloha, Renée

Banner photo: from – https://www.2checkingout.com/asia-blog-posts/2017/7/23/an-amazing-story-of-love-kindness-and-sacrifice-for-bali-dogs

This Bali Dog was named Mandi.  She looks much like the dog that bit me – but she was a sweet dog, a victim of poisoning – an effort by some Bali neighbors to rid their community of dogs.   Go to the above link to know more about how some people are helping (and some are hurting) Bali Dogs.

“The Benefits of Trashing the Garden”

What’s an easy way to get nutrients to your plants? How can you avoid chemical fertilizers?

The Garden Doctor’s suggestions will help you get rid of yard and vegetable waste – and make your plants happy and healthy.

The Benefits of Trashing the Garden

‘Dear Garden Doctor,

I want to use natural fertiliser [sic] but don’t have the patience for a compost, do you have any ideas for other easy ways to give my plants a natural kick with organic fertiliser. I’ve heard that banana peels can be used in the garden from vegetable gardens to flowers, palm trees and even thrown in the tops of staghorn ferns. Do you have any other easy ideas for natural fertilisers that can be made from ordinary household scraps that would otherwise end up in the rubbish bin?

Rafa from Ubud’

Adding any sort of organic matter to the soil to will improve the nutritional content and vitality of the soil whilst also inviting worms and all sorts of other beneficial micro-organisms to move in. A living soil that is teeming with life will always show the results by producing a lush green garden.  The easiest place to start is to re-use waste that you find within the garden.

All of the leaves that fall, the pruned offcuts, and the flowers that you deadhead contain vital nutrients that have been drawn up from deep within the soil. That’s why composting is so beneficial, it’s all about recycling the nutrients back into the soil. If you don’t have the patience for composting, then do it nature’s way and cycle the nutrients directly back into the soil.

Leaves and Garden Waste

Raking up old leaves and spreading them around the garden as a layer of mulch is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get started. Leaf mould or decaying leaf material is so simple, yet extremely beneficial. It’s one of the most readily available amendments you can add directly into your soil to improve it.

The benefits are twofold, not only will the soil benefit from the slow release of nutrients, it also retains moisture within the soil or can prevent moisture loss from evaporation if layered on as a mulch. Alternatively, you can dig it into the soil, where it will aerate the soil and improve drainage in combination with the action of worms, insects and microbes working to break it down.

When tidying up the garden recycle the garden off-cuts, making sure that they’re pest and disease free. Old dry palm fronds can be cut up and reincorporated into the soil. If your off-cuts are green, leave them in a pile out in the sun for a few days so that they dry up, turn brown and then can easily be shredded and reincorporated into the soil. Dead or dried up flowers can be pruned and scattered around the garden beds. Dried grass clippings are also one of the best nitrogen boosts you can give to your garden. Collect all garden waste, and cycle it back into the garden, it is full of the nutrients that have been sucked up from deep within the soil.

Kitchen Scraps

 They are great for the compost, but can also be incorporated directly back into the soil, decomposing rapidly and releasing nutrients for your plants. Fruit peels such as banana peels, mango, papaya and avocado skins will decompose quickly when lightly dug into the soil, alternatively simply just throw them around the base of your plants and cover with a layer of soil and leaves. Peels will provide potassium, phosphorous and calcium as well as many other trace minerals which will promote root and flower development and overall plant health. If you are concerned about attracting pests or animals, dry the peels in the sun before adding them into the garden or liquefy the peels in a blender with water before pouring it on to your garden.

Coffee Grounds and Tea Leaves

Coffee grounds and tea leaves are a source of nitrogen for the garden. You can either scatter coffee grounds around the base of your plants or fork them into the soil. With the teabags I normally collect a few then tear the paper and throw them in a bucket with water and pour the onto the soil. Coffee grounds and used tea leaves will give nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. The same goes for herbal teas, the green tea, rosehips or whatever sort that you drink can be poured out onto the garden or around your pot plants.

Eggshells

They consist of over 90% calcium carbonate and contain small amounts of other trace elements that make them a beneficial fertiliser. Collect them, wash and crush them, and then sprinkle them around the garden. They will add a hit of calcium and other minerals to the soil. Spread them around pot plants, your vegetable garden and outdoor trees. If you are growing an edible garden crushed egg shells sprinkled around plants will discourage snails and slugs, as they won’t crawl across the sharp jagged shell grit. Not only are you providing a natural fertiliser but also protecting your plants from slimy pests as well.

If you like boiled eggs, save the water until it cools and pour it on the garden as it will contain calcium and other minerals. Eggshells can also be used as seedling planters. With a pin make a few drainage holes in the bottom of an empty eggshell, add soil and then put them back into the old egg carton. Sow the seeds and care for them as you would any other seedlings. When they are ready to transplant into the garden, squeeze the shell gently to crack it and then place it in the ground. The roots will push through the cracks in the shell which will eventually decompose naturally, the best bit is… no transplant shock!

Eggshell+planters+seedlings

Start seedlings in egg shells

Starchy Rice Water and Other Sugars

When you wash your rice, instead of wasting the starchy water by pouring it down the sink, water it around your plants and flowers. Just make sure to pour it directly onto the soil and avoid getting it all over leaves and flowers. The starches will promote beneficial soil bacteria, whilst also adding nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and other trace elements to the soil. Empty or near empty drink containers can also be used to water to the garden. If I go to the fridge and find the last remains of a milk or fruit juice container I fill it up with water to dilute the contents and then pour it straight onto the garden. Milk diluted with water is a well known fertiliser for the garden. The same goes for any drinks that have passed their use-by.

Simply dilute old containers with water and pour the contents around the garden. Even old bottles of soda can be rinsed and poured onto the garden, the microbes and plants will love the sugar hit. The added benefit is that you will have clean rinsed containers, instead of smelly sticky ones filling up the rubbish bin.

On a final note, the napkins, paper towels etc used at meal time are also thrown into the compost along with the old newspapers – the worms absolutely love that stuff. Who would’ve thought that trash could be so useful in the garden!

Dr. Kris

Garden Doctor

Contact: dr.kris@ymail.com

Copyright © 2017 Dr. Kris

You can read all past articles of Garden Doctor at http://www.BaliAdvertiser.biz

 

Happy gardening – and getting rid of waste.

Aloha, Renée

Article from: Go to – https://baliadvertiser.biz/the-benefits-of-trashing-the-garden/

Images from: <http://www.17apart.com/2012/01/how-to-plant-seeds-using-eggshells.html&gt; and  the egg shell heads from:  The Bali Advertiser, p. 7.

“The Scary Truth about Childbirth”

If you are a mom, hope to be a mom, or love a mom, the information in “The Scary Truth about Childbirth” in the January/February 2017 issue of Mother Jones magazine is important.   Those who know problems can happen can take steps to avoid the worst.

Childbirth can be fatal.  At 37, my healthy mother died in labor  – in a hospital –  in the United States.  I was 9, my sister 7; we had our new brother – but no mom.  My mom’s doctor told my dad that she had hemorrhaged to death – “a very rare occurrence.”

Even today, maternal mortality in the U.S. is disgustingly high.  A 2016 article in Time notes“A  2015 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that the U.S. has a higher maternal mortality rate than Iran, Libya and Turkey. The WHO determined that half of the U.S. deaths were preventable [my emphasis.  No one in that hospital, for instance,  was paying attention to my mom as she bled to death] .  . .

The United Nations set a goal to reduce the global maternal mortality rate by 75% between 1990 and 2015, and while most nations succeeded in lowering that number, the U.S. has experienced an uptick in recent years. A report published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that from 2000 to 2014, the maternal mortality rate for 48 states and Washington, D.C. increased 27% from close to 19 deaths per 100,000 live births to close to 24 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Texas, the rate doubled between 2010 to 2012.”  [A likely reason for that upswing in deaths is that Texas has closed almost all its Planned Parenthood clinics – which give birth control, family planning information, treat medical issues, and do legal abortions; leaving few or no low-cost medical alternatives for the poor in Texas].

From: http://time.com/4508369/why-u-s-women-still-die-during-childbirth/

Even if the mom and child make it through the birth, “The Scary Truth About Childbirth”  highlights problems and injuries that happen during labor but are often not recognized.

Almost no one talks about the possibilities of incontinence or prolapse or severe pain or . . . (and this includes most doctors – who don’t check for possible injuries).  A woman may not know until 20, 30, 40, 50  years later that she has a problem.

For one  woman I know who had two children, her pelvis bones were broken each time because of the intense pressure during childbirth. What was wrong with her doctor to let her go through two labors like that?  Obviously the doctor  didn’t know what to do, and my friend has had many issues as a result. 😞  Perhaps if she had known (or her doctor was more aware and competent), my friend  could have long ago taken steps to improve her situation – or at least not had to repeat the ordeal during the birth of her second child. 

I also know three  women who have had the surgery for incontinence.  This is a condition that most women won’t talk about, and maybe the fact that I know of these three  (none in my opinion “successful” operations) reflects that people are more likely to complain when something goes wrong than to tell that they have had a successful procedure for an embarrassing condition.  It must work for some, but of those examples I know, one woman has had the operation three times (at a current cost of $28,000 each time, so you better be rich enough to have good medical insurance)! The second says she will never be able to have intercourse again because of the misplacement of the mesh insert, and the third, a Maui woman who was touted as having a “successful” operation and had been an avid hiker says that she will never again be able to hike Haleakala, our Maui volcano, a long and a bit challenging adventure.

Please read and share “The Scary Truth About Childbirth” by Kiera Butler, a well-researched and disturbing Mother Jones article – with your friends, your doctor, with every woman you know.  If you are  mom, find a doctor who takes these problems seriously.  If your gynecologist doesn’t check for these rather common issues, your future quality of life may very well be impacted.  Also do Pilates and yoga that will strengthen your pelvic floor. 

Be aware.  What you don’t know can hurt you.

Please read:  “The Scary Truth About Childbirth”

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/childbirth-injuries-prolapse-cesarean-section-natural-childbirth/

In a related posting several years ago, I shared the Atlantic Monthly article, “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?”

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/

lead_large

“How Long Can a Woman Wait to Have a Baby?” – image from The Atlantic Monthly

That article focuses on the faulty information that fertility rates drop dramatically after a woman is 35.  That idea, says the author, is based partially on a study of French women from the years 1670 through 1830 —  before electric lights, antibiotics, or fertility treatments.

Both articles have information we should know.   Be healthy; be informed; take good care of yourself.

And my friend Chris sent me the link to “After Texas Stopped Funding . . .” – an LA Times article:  http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-planned-parenthood-texas-births-20160203-story.html

4ZR3TQFCMVHLPPBTOB2N3RRKJA

 

If you can’t afford birth control, you probably can’t afford a child.  If you don’t want to use birth control, don’t use it.  If you are against abortion, don’t have one.  Let others decide what’s best for themselves.  Pregnancy has serious consequences.

Wishing you and all you love health and happiness.  Aloha, Renée

Will Power?

How have you been doing with your 2017 New Year’s resolutions?  Like me, your intentions may have been easy to make —  but not that easy to fulfill.   One of my resolutions was to take swimming lessons.  Although I can swim, I’m not really competent nor confident in the water.  It’s taken me until this month to enroll in a class.  I’ve gone to the three lessons.  There are five more classes, and I should be practicing during the week, which I’ve done once.  Why is something that I know would be good — and many people especially here in Hawaii love to do – so hard for me to accomplish?

Happiness-Advan

In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says that “whether it’s a strict diet, a New Year’s resolution, or an attempt at daily guitar practice, the reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower.  We think we can go from 0 to 60 in an instant, changing or overturning ingrained life habits through the sheer force of will.  Tal [the author’s mentor] thought telling himself he was on a diet would be enough to keep him away from his mother’s chocolate cake. [But after struggling and resisting for hours, he got up in the middle of the night and ate the entire remaining cake!].   I thought telling myself to follow some spreadsheet would discipline me enough to practice the guitar.  Well, that worked . . . for four days.  Then I went back to regularly scheduled programing.

WILLPOWER GETS A WORKOUT

The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that the more we use it, the more worn-out it gets” (152). . . .

“Unfortunately, we face a steady stream of tasks that deplete our willpower every single day.  Whether it’s avoiding the desert table at the company lunch, staying focused on a computer spreadsheet for hours on end, or sitting still through a three-hour meeting, our willpower is consistently being put to the test.  So it’s no wonder, really, that we so easily give in to our old habits, to the easiest and most comfortable path, as we progress through the day.  This invisible pull toward the path of least resistance can dictate more of our lives than we realize, creating an impassible barrier to change and positive growth.

THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE

As Cathy sits tethered to her desk on Tuesday, she daydreams about the upcoming Saturday and all its possibilities.  She wants to go biking on the trail by her house, join in a pickup soccer game at the local park, and see that Matisse exhibit at the museum..  She might even dive into that pile of books she has been wanting to read.  Like all of us, Cathy has a number of hobbies and activities that engage her interests and strengths, energize her days, and make her happy.  And yet, when her free Saturday actually does roll around, where does she end up?  Conspicuously not on her bike or at the soccer field, and certainly not at that art exhibit everybody was raving about–it’s 20 minutes away!  Her remote control, on the other hand, is within very easy reach, and Bravo happens to be airing a Top Chef marathon.  Four hours later, Cathy has sunk deeper and deeper into the couch, unable to shake a listless sense of disappointment.  She had better plans for the afternoon, and she wonders what happened to them.

What happened to Cathy was something that happens to all of us at one time or another. Inactivity is simply the easiest option.  Unfortunately, we don’t enjoy it nearly as much as we think we do.  In general, Americans actually find free time more difficult to enjoy than work.  If that sounds ridiculous, consider this:  For the most part, our jobs require us to use our skills, engage our minds, and pursue our goals–all things that have been shown to contribute to happiness.  Of course, leisure activities can do this too, but because they’re not required of us–because there  is no “leisure boss” leaning over our shoulder on Sunday mornings telling us we’d better be at the art museum by 9 A.M. sharp–we often find it difficult to muster the energy necessary to kick-start them.  So we follow the path of least resistance, and that path inevitably leads us to the couch and the television.  And because we are ‘mere bundles of habit,’ the more often we succumb to this path, the more difficult it becomes to change directions.

Unfortunately, though these times of ‘passive leisure,’ like watching TV and trolling around on Facebook, might be easier and more convenient than biking or looking at art or playing soccer, they don’t offer the same rewards.  Studies show that these activities are enjoyable and engaging for only about 30 minutes, [my emphasis] then they start sapping our energy, creating what psychologists call ‘psychic entropy’– that listless, apathetic feeling Cathy experience.

On the other hand, ‘active leisure’ like hobbies, games, and sports enhance our concentration, engagement, motivation, and sense of enjoyment.  Studies have found that American teenagers are two and half times more likely to experience elevated enjoyment when engaged in a hobby than when watching TV, and three times more likely when playing a sport.  And yet here’s the paradox: These same teenagers spend four times as many hours watching TV as they do engaging in sports or hobbies. So what gives? Or, as psychologist [and writer of Flow, The Dynamics of Flow, & Creativity] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi put it more eloquently, “Why would we spend four times more time doing something that has less than half the chance of making us feel good?”

The answer is that we are drawn–powerfully, magnetically–to those things that are easy, convenient, and habitual, and it is incredibly difficult to overcome this inertia [my emphasis].   Active leisure is more enjoyable, but it almost always requires more initial effort–getting the bike out of the garage, driving to the museum, tuning the guitar, and so on.  Csikszentmihalyi calls this ‘activation energy.’ In physics, activation energy is the initial spark needed to catalyze a reaction.  The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit.  Otherwise, human nature takes us down the path of least resistance time and time again” (152-156). . . .

“In the workplace, the path of least resistance is especially maladaptive, luring us into a whole host of bad habits that breed procrastination and undercut productivity. , , , Regardless of our job description, we never seem to have enough time to get everything done.  Eight-hour workdays turn into 12- and 14-hur ones, and still we feel behind.  How can this be?  Why do we have so much trouble being productive?  . . .The American Management Association reports that employees spend an average of 107 minutes on e-mail a day.  , , . And I suspect that if most office workers tallied up all the minutes they spent each day on blogs, social networking sites, Amazon.com, and so forth, it would paint a very alarming picture indeed.  . . .

And that’s not even the worst of it.  The actual time we give to these distractions is part of the problem, but the larger issue is that our attention hits a wall each time we stray.   Research shows that the average employee gets interrupted from their work every 11 minutes, and on each occasion experiences a loss of concentration and flow that takes almost as many minutes to recover from.  Yet in today’s world, it’s just too easy for us to be tempted.  As a New York Times article put it, “distracting oneself used to consist of sharpening a half-dozen pencils or lighting a cigarette.  Today, there is a universe of diversions to buy, hear, watch and forward, which makes focusing on a task all the more challenging. . . . It’s not the sheer number and volume of distractions that gets us into trouble; it’s the ease of access to them.  . . . In short, distraction, always just one click away, has become the path of least resistance. . . .

[However, you can]  lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt [put the guitar on the chair where you usually sit], and raise it for habits you want to avoid [freeze your credit cards in a block of ice if you are trying to stop impulse buying].  The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change” (157-161). . . .

For instance, “in our quest for healthier eating habits, researchers have found that they can cut cafeteria ice cream consumption in half by simply closing the lid of an ice cream cooler.  And that when people are required to wait in another, separate line to purchase chips and candy, far fewer will do so.  In essence, the more effort it takes us to obtain unhealthy food, the less we’ll eat of it, and vice versa.  This is why nutritionists recommend that we prepare healthy snacks in advance so that we can simply pull them out of the refrigerator, and why they recommend that when we do eat junk foods, we take out a small portion, then put the rest of the bag away, well out of our reach (163). . . .

For the author Shawn Achor’s example of  Ted, the guy who is working almost all the time,  and yet is not getting much done, there are specific actions that will help him establish better work habits.

                                                                SAVE TIME BY ADDING TIME

“The first step is a seemingly counterintuitive one–disable many of the shortcuts that were originally designed to ‘save time’ at the office.  For example, I encouraged Ted to keep his e-mail program closed while he worked, so it would no longer send jarring alerts whenever he received new mail.  Any time he wanted to check e-mail, he’d have to actively open the program and wait for it to load.  While this reduced involuntary interruptions, it was still too easy for him to click on the little Outlook icon whenever his mind wandered, so to protect against habitual checking, we made it even more difficult.  We disabled the automatic login and password for the account, took the shortcut off the computer desktop, then hid the application icon in an empty folder, buried in another empty folder, buried in another empty folder.  Essentially, we created the electronic version of Russian stacking dolls.  As he told me one day at the office, only half jokingly, it was now “a total pain in the ass’ to check e-mail.

‘Now we’re getting somewhere,’ I replied.

We did the same for his other distractions, disabling his stock widget, changing his home page from CNN to a blank search page, and even turning off his computer’s ability to process cookies so it couldn’t ‘remember’ the stocks and websites he usually checked.  Every additional button he was required to click, even every additional address he was required to type into a web browser, raised the barrier to procrastination and improved his chances of remaining on task.  I pointed out that he still had complete freedom to do what he wanted; just like in an opt-out program, his choice had not been taken away at all.  The only thing that had changed was the default, which was not set to productivity, instead of to distraction. . . .

Ted was not only skeptical, but a little annoyed with me.  It seemed to him (and to the other executives on whom I had inflicted similar miseries) that I was only making their busy lives more difficult.  . . . But a few days later, once they realized how much more work they were getting done (and in less time), they had come around.

                                         SLEEP IN YOUR GYM CLOTHES

. . . Limiting the choices we have to make can also help lower the barrier to positive change. . . studies showed that with every additional choice people are asked to make, their physical stamina, ability to perform numerical calculations, persistence in the face of failure, and overall focus drop dramatically.  And these don’t have to be difficult decisions either–the questions are more ‘chocolate or vanilla?’ than they are Sophie’s Choice. . . .

If you’ve ever tried to start up the habit of early-morning exercise, you have probably encountered how easy it is to get derailed by too much choice.  Each morning after the alarm clock sounds, the inner monologue goes something like this: Should I hit the snooze button or get up immediately?  What should I wear to work out this morning?  Should I go for a run or go to the gym?  Should I go to the nearby gym that/s more crowded or the quieter gym that is slightly farther away?  What kind of cardio should I do when I get there?  Should I lift weights?  Should I go to kickboxing class or maybe yoga?  And by that point you’re so exhausted by all the options, you’ve fallen back asleep.  At least that’s what would happen to me.  So I decided to decrease the number of choices I would have to make in order to get myself to the gym.

Each night before I went to sleep, I wrote out a plan for where I would exercise in the morning and what parts of my body I would focus on.  Then, I put my sneakers right by my bed.  Finally–and most important–I just went to sleep in my gym clothes.  (And my mom wonders why I’m not married yet.)

But the clothes were clean, and I had essentially decreased the activation energy enough so that when I woke up the next morning, all I had to do was roll off my bed, put my feet (which already had socks on them) into my shoes, and I was out the door.  The decisions that seemed too daunting in my groggy morning state had been decided for me, ahead of time.  And it worked.  Eliminating the choices and reducing the activation energy made getting up and going to the gym the default mode.  As a result, once I ingrained a lifetime positive habit of morning exercise, I now don’t have to sleep in my gym clothes anymore. . . .

This isn’t just about getting yourself to exercise.  Think of the positive changes you want to make at your job [or at home or with personal growth], and figure out what it would mean to ‘just get your shoes on’ at work.  The less energy it takes to kick-start a positive habit, the more likely that habit will stick.

                                                   SET RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Whether you’re trying to change your habits at work or at home, the key to reducing choice is setting and following a few simple rules . . . like deciding ahead of time when, where, and how I was going to work out in the morning. . . . [S]etting rules in advance can free us frm the constant barrage of willpower-depleting choices that make a real difference in our lives.  If we make a rule to never drive a car when we’ve had more than one drink, for example, we eliminate the stress and uncertainty of trying to make a judgment call every time we aren’t sure if we’re too drunk to drive (which probably means we are).  At work, setting rules to reduce the volume of choice can be incredibly effective.  For example, if we set rules to only check our e-mail once per hour, or to only have one coffee break per morning, we are less likely to succumb in the moment, which helps these rules to become habits we stick to by default. . . .

The key to . . . permanent, positive change — is to create habits that automatically pay dividends, without continued concerted effort or extensive reserves of willpower.  The key to creating these habits is ritual, repeated practice, until the actions become ingrained in your brain’s neural chemistry.  And the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.  Identify the activation energy–the time, the choices, the mental and physical effort they require–and then reduce it.  If you can cut the activation energy for those habits that lead to success, even by as little as 20 seconds at a time, it won’t be long before you start reaping their benefits.  The first step metaphorically–and sometimes literally–is just to get your shoes on” (163-170).

Or for me, just jump in the water – and swim.  I will go to my five remaining swimming classes.  In October and much of November, I will have easy access to a pool, so I’ll continue practicing there.  My goal is to swim for an hour without stopping.  Surely, I can do that (and not hate it) before the end of December — when I’ll write another New Year’s resolution list.

swimming_swimmer_female_216789-1-copy

This could be me before the end of 2017 – and, I hope that I’d love swimming

Image from – http://www.freeimages.com/search/woman-swimming

The book has other good advice including a section on the importance of relationships.  I encourage you to read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  If you can’t get that done by the end of the year, you could add it to your 2018 New Year’s resolutions.

What about you?  It’s not too late to revisit your 2017 New Year’s resolution list.  Perhaps you’ve been relying on your willpower to accomplish your goals.  It’s probably not enough.  As Shawn Achor suggests – Figure out how can you put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.

Besides working on my swimming, I’m putting my vitamins on the counter each morning right by the sink; the bottles must be back in the cabinet before the end of the day. Learning to play a ukulele is also a goal, so like Shawn Achor, I’ve been leaving the instrument on my chair.

The year isn’t over.  You can still accomplish what you resolved to do.   Good luck.

Aloha, Renée

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor <https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Advantage-Principles-Success-Performance/dp/0753539470/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503851065&sr=8-1&keywords=the+happiness+advantage+by+shawn+anchor

P.S.  I recommend this book for other good insights.  Although the focus is for success and performance at work, you can apply the principles in all aspects of your life.  “Principle #7 SOCIAL INVESTMENT – Why Social Support is Your Single Greatest Asset” is particularly useful.

 

 

 

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