Monday, August 31, 2020

On with the Butter: Book Review


Inspired by her mother's resilience and sense of adventure, Heidi Herman has written On with the Butter: Spread More Living into Everyday Life. (2020, Hekla Publishing). 

The gist of the book can be summed up in an Icelandic saying that translates roughly to "On with the Butter!" It's similar to the British saying, "Carry on," but contains a bit more zest, particularly as embodied by Herman's Icelandic mother. 

Disclosure: I have received a complimentary copy of Herman's book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Heidi has a long career as a writer of various genres, but this book was part of a collaboration with her mother to enumerate nearly one hundred activities that can help older adults remain engaged and joyful. 

The book, however, is not just a list. It conveys an outlook on life that is an invitation to find happiness in the moment rather than being bogged down with one of life's many challenges. 

Even though I am many years younger than Ieda, the author's mother, I appreciate the suggestions for engaging in life when some people might suffer depression due to role loss and struggle with how to re-engage in life. 

I still teach classes at two universities; however, I experienced a slump when all of my children launched in August of 2019. True, I only have two children, but having them both fire me as their mother was quite a shock. 

Instead of looking back at what is missing, I am inspired to engage more fully in the moment by reading narratives about Iada's adventures followed by checklists for having an adventure of my own.

For example, in Chapter 5, "Take the Scenic Route," Herman describes a road trip she and her mother took through some of the smaller roads that connect I-80 and I-25. In doing so, Ieda convinced her daughter to stop at the Mormon Handcart Museum that documented the 1,300 mile trip of handcart pioneers. 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Check the Data: COVID19 Dashboards

Image by WonderWhy7439.

As a gerontologist (and a mortal), I am taking a keen interest in the COVID-19 (C19) pandemic. 

These are some of the tools I use frequently. 

In an effort to mitigate the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-19), I consult various dashboards that evaluate the risk factors for countries, states, or counties based on one or more of the following criteria: 
  • Cases of C19 by number or per 100K or per capita
  • Testing rate by goal, per 100K or per capita
  • Hospitalizations by number or percentage of capacity
  • ICU beds and/or ventilators by number or percentage of capacity
  • Death by number or by percentage excess from prior years. 
This is the web page I check first. 

Harvard Global Health Institute maintains a map of the US that is easy to scan for severity of risk by county: green, yellow, orange and red.  

HGHI's Risk Level dashboard also provides the number of new cases per day (on a 7 day moving average) for the state. If you click on the state, you can find the county information, too. This is important, because counties within a state can vary. 

For example, Florida as of August 1, 2020 reports these rates for new C19 cases:
  • The state of Florida reports 43.6 new cases per day per 100,000
  • Glades County, FL reports 8.3 cases per 100,000
  • Jefferson County, FL reports 168.5 cases per 100,000