Friday, April 16, 2021

Giving away note cards - for charity donations

First, I can't believe I haven't written anything in 2021. I've missed blogging, and writing and all. However, for this post I'll keep it short and simple.

I usually make note cards with photos that I've taken over the years. I give them to friends, family and colleagues as holiday presents and such. However, I want to expand and thought this would be a good opportunity in times of need of others.

If you donate $20 to a charity (my personal favorites are Doctor's without Borders, my local food bank and local homeless support who all get a monthly contributions), and then send me a message on twitter or an email with your address, I'll send you a pack of note cards.

It's a pack of 6 cards 3.5x5 with envelopes.

Here are what they look like - frozen lake in Sweden, frozen light pole at Niagara falls, late summer lake in Alaska, southern bridge over Mississippi river, summer beach from Miami, French olive trees (only one photoshopped for colours).

I have 10 of these packs! Let me know if you are interested.







Sunday, December 20, 2020

A range of emotions (count down to New Year pt 2)

 Let's be absolutely clear. I'm shattered emotionally. My inner being is being torn between screaming into the void WHAT DOES IT MATTER THAT WE KNOW ALL OF THIS SINCE YOU DON'T LISTEN and whisper softly "say good bye to the people/things you care about since they will not survive this".

It's difficult to explain how I feel looking at my diary from February, and also the entries from April where I state things like "come May 1st we will be on lock down in Memphis and it will be too late to stop the spread in the poor community where they can't work from home". And the April one stating "the USA will see a spread and deaths in the fall that people won't comprehend".

Not to mention the most heartbreaking one where I wrote in July estimating by my (negative yet apparently pretty accurate) predictions on how exponential spread would go in numbers in the USA and then the deaths to follow. Notably I was wrong as in even I were too optimistic on the speed for cases in September.

I did write a small comment to myself in August - the time I was quarantining in my hotel room in Stockholm and had to acknowledge that my emotions after going through the transAtlantic flight experience were pretty high and unstable. (That's something for part 3 since it will take longer to explain the absolute rollercoaster that went on inside my body for 30 hours while going from safe house aka home in a controlled space to a controlled hotel room via four airports with vastly disparate rules and actions.)

Anyway, my comment in August was that we would see the highest number of the year after Thanksgiving. That said, it's not rocket science so I won't pat myself on the back too much. And also that the uptick in cases after school and all the activities in Septebmer would lead into more cases in the fall.... and then thanksgiving.... and then hoping that the fact that cases were up would mean we didn't have to discuss Christmas. Here I was wrong, and I had put a note saying (probably too optimistic, people are great at rationalizing "not me and my family but everyone else is needing to do X, Y, K".

And then looking at my diary entries of Sweden in the fall "once the cold sets in". Yes, not difficult to predict that the cases were going up - yet difficult to read right now when looking at the numbers and knowing my family is so far away only reachable with international air travel.

Long and the short of it is this; it's extremely tiresome seeing a situation play out in front of your eyes - knowing that the people you love are in danger - because everyone seems to need to "experience the horror themselves" before acknowledging the situation.

The lack of understanding the full notion - I don't have to die from a car crash to know that I should keep seatbelt on and drive the speed limit. Again, IF it ONLY affected you when you make the stupid choice I wouldn't care as much (individual freedom and all) but when your choice of freedom puts MY life in danger, that's where I fricking draw the line.

(Right now, I'm not mentioning the vaccine and the people who don't want to take it. I'm too angry and you know, there's not enough vaccines to go around so if people say no to vaccines, that means I move up the line to get the vaccine faster.... and therefore I guess I should just accept your fricking freedom to say no? Another day I'll delve in why this argument is not a proper bioethical choice and not the right one for me.) 


For right now, I've spent 9 months actively not wishing ill on people who are in power and who have put too many people at risk and have been the cause of so many (unnecessary) deaths. I'm only human and there's a limit for my compassion at this point. That's what I am doing this Holiday season - asking for grace and compassion so when I come back after January 1st, I can stand to meet all these people around me who spout lies, confusion and hate regarding the vaccine and the virus. And with stand to meet, I mean I can meet them with a compassionate face and giving them love as my neighbour and turning the other cheek since there is NO other way out of this. I know that. 

Why? Because it's a fricking airborne infectious disease and it spreads between people regardless if I like or dislike them. And the only way it will stop killing and hurting people is if we get enough people vaccinated and keeping the infection rates down. 

And the only way to do this (if we aren't a dictatorship like China where they welded the doors shut) is to do the tried and executed way of telling people to stay at home, give them financial ways to do it, give them hope and add in incentives for companies to keep going - OH and GIVE them Vaccines for free to help!

It's not like I'm advocating for a mandatory vaccine to be able to fly on a plane, see hockey, visit grandmother in a home, have a job, going to a restaurant or sing in a church choir. Where I live, LAND OF THE FREE, this will not happen. But separate businesses will start enforcing these rules and it will be uneven, inequitable and lots of families and children will suffer. But let's not listen to the Infectious Disease experts.

You go with your freedom. Me? I will continue to give money and effort to the poor and my community. And I will live alone* in my house and Work From Home. Wear my mask to the few times I go to the store and live a good life without travel or friends over to party.

I will lose a lot of family and friends due to the virus. And that will make me sad. And most of all, kinda convinced that the world would be better with me as a dictator. (obviously a joke, please see the section of "trying to fricking cope with this PREDICTABLE year where nothing was stopped")

Part 3 of Count Down to New Year will be less bitter. See this as my one time venting and who knows how long this will stay. 

*with my bubble man 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Giving for others - Thankful for my blessings (countdown to new years pt1)

 I wrote a couple of things for Thanksgiving, but they seem fitting for my take on 2020 and how I've tried to handle the Covid situation. Let's say I'm going to do a couple of COVID 2020 DEBRIEF POSTS. That's how it feels right now.

I didn't even pay attention that I had written this post before. 

So, if you want to know the spcifics of what I'm grateful fore - go to the November post. I only have one (that's bad).

My ket point, and this was where I got stuck in "I'm not bragging but want to share and maybe you would like to do something similar" was when mentioning how much of my salary this year has gone to others/charity. I've given more this year than ever. Why? Partly becasue I have not spent any money on travel or restaurants. No theatre nor opera performance. I haven't been to an art opening and I haven't purchased any paintings, photo cards or any other things that I usually buy when going to local art galleries, vernissages, art festivals as such.

However, I have given to these things regularly during the year:

local theatre company

globally to Doctors without borders 

Kiva - microloans all over the world

Currently 5% of Gross income. Most of that money otherwise spent on travel, restaurants and experiences (and HOCKEY). Mainly this has been easy since I decided that if we didn't go out to eat, drink and travel - I could spend a good portion of that money on others who will be in need of it since clearly I could spend it before, so why shouldn't I spend it on people who need it now?

  • I've also tried "two birds with one stone" and purchased at least 12 races of virtual races for good causes (charity). This has been a way for me to keep motivated to get out of the house and walk/run when the weather was 100F in the summer, and to keep going when it turned more rainy and dark in the fall. (I am tempted to post a list of the races with photos of all the medals, yet I don't want to come off as a bragging person but someone who want to share happy things! It's been the beacon of entusiasm when it was 100F degrees outside, and it's been similar for running in the mornings in Nov/Dec when it's 37F in the mornings...... I'm no a morning runner....)
I'm not stating this to feel good about myself (only). It's been a help for me to find my footing in a world full of uncertainty and not being in control (apart from over my very tiny part of working from home reality). 

I said short and sweet, so I will stop here. If you have the opportunity of giving to someone else - local foodbank, a venmo for a friendly server, a virtual race that gives to opportunities for women in law (Ruth Bader Ginsburg race....) or anything else that goes to someone out there in need of support - please consider it this holiday season. If there ever was a time to use those "Christmas present money" on others rather than on some unused little gadget, now is the time.

Here are a few links to places where your money will do a lot of good:
www.kiva.org
https://www.msf.org/donate

local food bank - for me it's MidSouth Food bank: https://www.midsouthfoodbank.org/
Purchase to help trafficking women getting out and a new life: https://thistleandbee.org

I've also given to local Arts organizations to keep the hope that there will be theatre, opera and art as painting in 2021.

And any local organization that will help service people with tips, work and other normal things. We had a "server Go fund Me" pop up in April for all the laid off Servers in the city area.

Overall though, my thing for this Holiday Season is "Give to someone else additional to you and the gift recipient". This is of course said if the gift recipient is well off/not having a rough time with covid. 

For some of my family and friends this year, I give hard cold cash since that's the best gift they can get from me right now.

Be good, be safe and do to others what you want done to you. I'll write the bitterness post soon.... ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Thanksgiving (in the USA)

It's not a regular Thanksgiving. It hasn't been a regular year. I'll be short and sweet, pointing out my main take away for this 5 day weekend from work that I am going to have.

I'm thankful for a couple of things;
  • First and foremost that no one in my immediate family has been killed by covid.
  • Second, no one of my friends has died of covid.
  • I have a couple of friends and family who have had covid, but aren't showing too many long term symptoms so far. I'm grateful for that too.
  • I haven't lost my job. And, even though I'm scared of jinxing anything, I don't think I am at risk for losing my job over the next 6 months either.
  • My lovely man hasn't lost his job either, nor being at risk.
  • Both of us have been able to work from home full time, we are lucky enough to have space so it's not one room for both of us.
  • I've given more to charity - both locally to the "server/service fund, local foodbank, the local arts and theatre company, and globally to Doctors without borders and Kiva - than I've ever done. Mainly this has been easy since I decided that if we didn't go out to eat, drink and travel - I could spend a good portion of that money on others who will be in need of it since clearly I could spend it before, so why shouldn't I spend it on people who need it now?
  • I've also tried "two birds with one stone" and purchased a couple (a dozen?) of virtual races for good causes (charity). This has been a way for me to keep motivated to get out of the house and walk/run when the weather was 100F in the summer, and to keep going when it turned more rainy and dark in the fall. (I am tempted to post a list of the races with photos of all the medals, yet I don't want to come off as a bragging person but someone who want to share happy things!)

I'm not stating this to feel good about myself (only). It's been a help for me to find my footing in a world full of uncertainty and not being in control (apart from over my very tiny part of working from home reality). 

It was extremely clear to me when I had the good fortune to go back to my home country in the summer to take care of my parents. After more than 3 months in an all controlled environment (my house and working from home) I got on a flight (well, three flights) and then entered a world where people weren't wearing masks nor felt it was necessary to quarantine after said flights. Needless to say, I had a rough first week. Lucky for me, and I do mean this from the bottom of my heart, I could stay all alone in a hotel room getting my bearings. I could go outside in the temperate summer and go running to alleviate some of my stress and anxiety. And then I got to spend three weeks with my aging parents. It was one of those times where we made memories and I felt like a good daughter and they felt like good parents.

I stayed at a hotel for over 30 days. And that didn't break my bank. (It was a lot of discount due to covid but still, being able to stay in a hotel for that long is a luxury. And I am thankful for that.)

I said short and sweet, so I will stop here. If you have the opportunity of giving to someone else - local foodbank, a venmo for a friendly server, a virtual race that gives to opportunities for women in law (Ruth Bader Ginsburg race....) or anything else that goes to someone out there in need of support - please consider it this holiday season. If there ever was a time to use those "Christmas present money" on others rather than on some unused little gadget, now is the time.

I will use my five days off work to contemplate my luck in life, my present day and consider my future and what I want with it. Lofty goals perhaps, but every journey begins with one step.

(and I will also try and not think and dread too much about my charity marathon run that has to happen week after Thanksgiving. Weather is looking like "the coldest it's been all fall" with temperatures starting in the high 20ies at night, and steady 30-40 during the day.....)

Sunday, October 04, 2020

testing negative and being non-infected with Covid - slight comment

I wasn't planning on doing this but after a few days of hearing news from all over the place (thanks to being involved with someone who listens to Fox and "christian radio", I've gotten a view from there as well as the European sector that I cover on a regular daily basis and then the NPR and "liberal media" we both listen to....).

Anyhooo..... since part of what I'll be writing here shouldn't be an issue on anyone - regards republican or democrat - since it is fact.

The facts are as follows:

SARS-CoV-2 replicates in upper lung or lower lung, but most often is detected in respiratory part of the back of the nose (nasopharyngeal part). 

The PCR tests are designed to find the RNA in the swabs that are put in our noses - or sometimes the back of the throat - and will pick up virus and parts of the virus to show detection when run through the test.

The quick test - is having a high degree of certainty when positive (that means there is presence of virus in you) but the degree of false negatives is pretty high. This means that the Limit of Detection (LOD) as I previously wrote about, will be higher than 0. There's also a pure biological reason that the rapid test is having a low detection level of people "who might be infected but test negative" since there virus need to replicate to a point of detection. None of the test on market - understandably so - can say that they know you are infected the same day or day after (or even up to day "before you have symptoms") - since there LOD is not as sensitive as that.

Short explanation is this: you meet your friend and hug them. They are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and breathe when they say "Happy to see you". You get some of that breath, and viral particles, in your breath that you take into your lungs/upper respiratory tract (back of the nose/throat). The virus is all happy getting cells to infect and starts getting to work.... that means multiplying.

Depending on how well the virus is multiplying inside your cells, the number of cells and number of viral particles and RNA in your system (cells in the nose/lungs, bloodstream or stool) will vary. That's why some people show "positive" on the testing after 2 days after exposure, or others don't show it until 10 days. Either of them could be sick, have symptoms, and get others sick - it's all individual. That's why the guidelines say 5-14 days for quarantine.

As I explained to my parents - both over 70 - when I went to see them. I had a high risk event when flying, and I said "I want to wait 10 days before meeting you outside" (I'd still wear a mask since I'm the potential spreader at that point). The key facts for me are the scientific articles that say "after 11 days of quarantine without symptoms from a high risk/positive covid19 encounter, 97% are non-positive") .

When I re-entered USA to go to home to my house, I lived in my guest room for 9 days  - monitoring my temperature and symptoms - since it was important to me not getting anyone else potentially infected, and then I got a PCR test on day 8 since if my flight was the potential spreader moment. The test would pick up me as infected after 8 days even if I was symptomatic due to the viral replication rate as reported.

I feel like this aspect has been lost in the discussion. The test will NOT pick up on you being exposed today, yesterday, day before yesterday and maybe not day before that. Why? Because there isn't enough virus in you to get a positive in the test. the Swab is only so good. The swab doesn't go everywhere where the virus might be. The amount of virus is not what the Swab need it to be to pick it up.

This is what's mentioned in the discussion as "wait to test until 4 days after exposure" and quarantine until then. It's also why "going to work every day without social distancing even if you test every day will keep you safe from potential infections" (since you don't know who met someone infected the night before since the test will show up as negative that morning after....). 

Everyone with a basic biology degree should know this. 

Anyone having an infectious disease degree or knowledge knows this. Anyone with a pandemic preparedness knows this.

That's why I'm so confused seeing the "Rose Garden Event" from last Saturday since people are not only kissing and huggin (outdoors), they are also gathering indoors without any social distancing. It's confusing on a Risk level, and on a "protection level"

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that; people in the WH really didn't think Covid19 was an issue from the President, not any of the people surrounding him, since otherwise they would've taken precautions like social distancing, mask wearing indoors and no people cheek kissing and then talking to the president.  

Again, I feel like repeating - "What do I know? I'm just a PhD in microbiology with a speciality of virology and pandemic".....