Spencer’s Picks: Overcoming Pandemic Fatigue; Art, Science & Suggested Solutions; The Happiness of a Dog

Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy

Photo of Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. Photo by Katheryn Laible

 

As usual, when he’s not scrying into the mysteries of metals at the atomic level, or pondering puzzles of more efficient means of tapping energy, Dr. Thomas is bringing some light into our life. Here are a few of the things he’s brought to our attention:

Now that we’re about a month into the college semester with social distancing and remote learning, a lot of people I know are feeling a bit of a drag. You are not alone: Lonliness at Pandemic U: 14 tips for college students and their parents

Along similar themes, but more for everyone:: Your Surge Capacity is Depleted. This is Why You Feel Awful (and a couple good things you can do about it)

One thing that’s helpful is — to help! Here is a heartwarming and inspiring story from one of my very favorite professors from back in my undergrad time at Stony Brook. Bente Videbaek is an amazing person who has been working hard to make sure people have masks Facebook Page: “Humans of Mather Hospital”

When you feel a bit grounded and ready to stare some of the bigger challenges facing humanity in the face: Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. One of the speakers, Dr. Rose Mutiso, is a friend of mine – we were graduate students together. She’s the incredible CEO of the Mawazo Institute, which supports women scientists and leaders throughout East Africa. She has also spoken at TED and written in Scientific American about the challenges that people in Africa face building digital and clean-energy infrastructure.

One for the Coltrane fans out there: The most feared song in jazz, explained. It’s not too hard for a layman to follow this breakdown of “Giant Steps,” even as it’s still among the most challenging things a musician may face

Finally, no big point here, but a bit of joy for you since we could all use it: The happiness of this dog after they put prostheses on

Spencer Thomas received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After some time at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, we are DELIGHTED to welcome him back to Long Island as a researcher at Stony Brook University. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. For a time, Spencer studied metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant. We’re still endeavoring to understand what he’s doing now well enough to explain it so simply.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

Masks and Potatoes – Grateful!!!

We’ve mentioned our love of mask-makers before, and how grateful we are that in the face of a tremendous challenge so many have stepped up to hand-craft kind and often quite beautiful solutions. We’ve also been giving great thanks for all endeavoring to address other huge human service challenges, especially hunger.

Katie and her family got their own first masks as a gift from a fellow Scout parent, Haili Gao, the founder of “Masks and Beyond” in Syosset. Haili’s now partnered with others, including another Scout Parent, Donna Zaino who runs the food pantry out of St. Edwards Church in Syosset.

Now, they’re selling the masks for $10 a piece (2 for $15), and using the money to buy food to fill the Pantry!

“Thank you to BCW families, St Edwards Parishioners, and all others who supported our cause, we have reached $1000 sale as of today! We have delivered total of almost 400 pounds of food to the food pantry in three weeks! We now have masculine print masks!”

To purchase masks to support the St. Edwards Food Pantry, please email Haili at hailipt@gmail.com or text her at 516-668-1730.

Frontline Heroes Wellness Program

Images provided by Pal-O-Mine Equestrian

Please share this opportunity with first responders and medical professionals who could really use to experience a place of refuge with nature and animals!!!!

You can learn all about the work Pal-O-Mine Equestrian does on their website, or by checking out this article we wrote with them last year, “Pal-O-Mine Equestrian Harnesses the Healing Power of Horses.”

Honestly, we feel better just thinking about their loving, healing, caring farm! Now, they are offering complimentary wellness experiences for medical professionals and first responders on their 13-acre working farm.

Sessions may include reiki, mindfulness, and horsemanship. Every experience involves the horses and other farm animals. Sessions are run by licensed social workers, reiki masters, and certified equine specialists.

The well-known benefits of being in nature include reduced stress while providing a sense of calm, connection, and solace. It has been proven that animals and nature together help lower heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.

For more information or to schedule a wellness session, please email Carol Ann at cguerriero@pal-o-mine.org or call her at 631-348-1389.

Spencer’s Picks: What? Why? How Can I? COVID Considerations…

Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy

Photo of Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. Photo by Katheryn Laible

Dr. Thomas is back, sharing bits of the Internet that intrigue him. Here are some he’s recently found helpful. Hope you appreciate them, too!

I have long appreciated XKCD, A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math & language. This particular cartoon “Pathogen Resistance” offers a nice sorta positive outlook on things. It echoes my gratitude that so many people have elected to take this situation seriously and have helped us flatten the curve as much as we have.

Please keep it up!

I’ve mentioned “Smarter Every Day” before. I found this really inspiring: “How to Help Your Hospital Fight COVID-19 Locally”

The YouTube Channel: “Health Care Triage” offers great videos, including many on the current crisis such as “How Can I Grocery Shop Safely? When Is Someone Sick Enough for the ER?”“Should I Disinfect My Amazon Deliveries?”“Can I Buy Stuff From China? What About Screen Time? and something we all want to know: “When Can We Get Back to Normal?”

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion and accusations levied against China, from people believing that this virus is a biological weapon or that it came from a lab mishap in Wuhan. Personally, I think this is a distraction – what matters right now is beating the infection.

However, there is already a lot of research on where these kinds of viruses come from and scientists around the world are concluding that it’s extremely likely that COVID-19 came from a chance encounter with a wild bat. FiveThirtyEight has a good summary on “Why Scientists Think the Novel Coronavirus Developed Naturally – Not in a Chinese Lab”

Humans interact with animals all the time and there’s always a tiny chance of something like this happening – it’s inevitable and nobody’s fault. If we learn anything from this, it’s that this was always going to happen eventually and it will happen again in the future.

There is no way to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. That’s not something we can control. What we can control is our response to it.

It didn’t need to get this bad or go on this long, but it’s too late to fix our past mistakes. What we can do right now is everything in our power to stop the spread, while supporting those for whom these sacrifices are a bigger ask. What we can do in the future is build a society that can better weather storms like this.

In terms of getting back to normal, here’s a Roadmap to Resilience, an expert-driven, muti-disciplinary, muli-political-leaning plan to get the world open again.

Meanwhile, on a more personal level, here’s a good quarantine survival guide: Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You from CGP Grey.

Spencer Thomas recently received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is now doing his Postdoc at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. Spencer studies metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

 

Spencer Thomas received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After some time at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, we are DELIGHTED to welcome him back to Long Island as a researcher at Stony Brook University. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. For a time, Spencer studied metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant. We’re still endeavoring to understand what he’s doing now well enough to explain it so simply.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

In Praise of Local Crafters and their Kind Consideration

Mask crafted by Firefly Michele Miroff

While it is totally not cool that ANYONE has. had to scrounge for PPE – especially essential workers, ESPECIALLY healthcare folks! – We have decided to be grateful that out of that challenge has come a beautiful, thoughtful, heartfelt art form. 

We can hardly get close enough to look each other in the eye and yet now so many crafty people have found a way to lovingly hug our faces.

And…because, on balance, masks themselves really are more courtesy than personal protection, we immediately get to pay the care forward. 

And…it’s not a bad business. They’re fairly simple to make and yet imagination is the limit. People need lots of them….

So…talk about socially conscious fashion that is form and function!

Trudy has been busily making them for family and neighbors. In our Firefly Lights, you can read about Kirk Larsen and his #maskforce #teachersgettingitdone

Did you see this article about the Luchador in Mexico?

How about this much more local bit in The Observer about The Engeman Theater?

CBSN New York shows a 95-year old Floral Park seamstress who’s part of a volunteer corp founded in Huntington “Stitched Together Long Island” that has made more than 20,000 masks for essential workers.

The Mask Mavens of Huntington is a small team of volunteers that are sewing and giving away homemade masks for free to any and all who need them.

This article in the LIBN by Bernadette Starzee is about three entrepreneurial firms who created 5,000 masks a day to sell at cost to hospitals and first responders.

This News12 Article covers a Bellmore Fashion Designer who, with her remotely-working staff, churned out 1,000 masks in one week to donate to medical personnel.

Here’s a North Fork Patch article “Iconic Sail Makers, Brewery Make Face Masks for Hospital Heroes”

To make them yourself, and get good advice on using them, here’s a good article in Popular Mechanics.

Feed Your Soul

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

While we STRONGLY RECOMMEND erring on the side of science in terms of understanding how disease spreads and what we have good evidence heals, we also know a great many who (while also following Dr’s orders) find healing and overcoming a deeply personal experience that is greatly strengthened by their faith.

We have also long agreed with Dale Carnegie that prayer is much more psychologically useful than worry and — when there’s nothing else we can do — remains better than doing nothing.

Many houses of worship are closing. While we haven’t yet found a comprehensive guide to what’s now available, we have seen many of our faithful friends posting information about services that are occurring online. We encourage you to contact your own community. We will share what we come across.

We see that Donna Martini has been offering her own “Mighy Mantras” on Facebook as her contribution to helping folks find some spiritual solace.

Additionally this local “Moonful Mama” has been offering some global healing meditations as well as a little of her own Momma’s spirit regarding how we might all find opportunity in times of crisis.

While she probably wouldn’t call herself a faith healer, we do find Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings deeply soothing to our souls. Here is her Meditation on Thich Nhat Hanh’s, “How To Love” a lesson on how to grow our hearts.

For our own part, we pray that – now and always – humanity endeavors toward truth and love, best we may humbly discern our way forward, fueled by faith, dexterity and strength, with gratitude for every blessing we may count, especially to those who keep hope alive.

Peace and well-wishes to all.

Second — An Irish Blessing

A Long Island Four-Leaf Clover. Photo by Katheryn Laible

While the Irish shutting down their pubs on the Eve of St. Paddy’s day is a sure sign that this stuff is serious, locally we’ve seen more than a few Suffolk folks find a silver lining in that they can now get cocktails to go.

For our part, we are choosing to celebrate that The Dropkick Murphys have decided, since they can’t play to a crowd in Boston tonight, they’re going to live stream it the world instead, 7PM EST.

It’s a lovely addition to these amazing videos of balcony performances in Italy.

Play on…