Swimming Lesson

Kids love water. They love getting into it, splashing around, having fun playing games, and getting lost in their fantasies.

Growing up I loved every chance I had to go to the lake. I grew up in Northern Indiana where lakes were readily accessible, and we often went to one of three small lakes offering swimming amenities for families in the 1950s. While going to the lake was something I loved to do and took advantage of every opportunity, it is not where my most important swimming lessons were delivered. It is not where I learned to ‘swim’.

The place I visited most and where I learned how to swim was in Treaty Creek about a third of a mile upstream from its confluence with the Wabash River in Wabash, Indiana. In an earlier decade, a small steel or iron dam about 4 feet high had been built across the creek to impound water. Its location next to Wabash Water Works suggested it was built to supply Wabash with drinking water. Wabash quickly outgrew the creek’s capacity to provide water and the city later drilled wells a few miles farther south to take water from the now covered pre-glacial Teays River.

The part of the creek next to the Water Works, still dammed, created a place that was popular with many Wabash area youth to fish and swim. In summer we went there often, removed our clothes, and passed many lazy summer afternoons splashing in the water. The Wabash River then was little more than a public conveyance for sewage discharged by every community bordering the river from the Ohio State Line to the Ohio River. We never considered swimming there. We went to this place of impounded water on Treaty Creek whenever we got hot or ran out of other things to do, and no one ever thought of telling our parents or seeking permission. This was the 1950s. We just did it. We got there by riding our bikes the two miles or walking the Big Four Railroad (Norfolk Southern today) and crossing the trestle over the river.

I was 11 years old and on this particular day found myself fishing underneath the trestle with friends and neighbors Paul and Todd. I threw out my first bobber on a cane pole there a couple years earlier when Paul and Todd’s dad included me on a family outing to learn something about fishing. We cast our lines from under the north end of the trestle. The site was filled with history about which we had no clue except for the tire tracks left in what was a kind of lane that followed the old towpath of the Wabash and Erie Canal along the river. We never knew “Treaty” Creek was so named because of the treaty signed here in October 1826 between the United States and Potawatomi and Miami Tribes. The “Treaty” ceded lands north of the Wabash River opening this area of Northern Indiana to “white” settlement. We were aware of the large pink granite stone entombed in concrete nearby denoting “Paradise Spring” marking the place of the treaty much like a tombstone in a graveyard marks a burial place, which was appropriate considering what “white America” did to these Native Americans by their signing it.

Our fishing hole was near where the river at its lowest point, funneled itself through narrow rapids flowing under the mid-point of the trestle with a broad sand and gravel bar extending out from both banks. At this particular moment the river was about two feet higher because of recent rain, and the rapids much broader.

We often grabbed our poles, rods and some bait on summer afternoons when we were tired of baseball or it was too hot to play at that time of day. It brought us near the river where it was cooler and there were always things to see and find to keep our interest such as snakes, turtles, catfish, cans, bottles and flat stones we loved to skip.

On this day I was suddenly seized by the thought of swimming across the rapids to the other side. I decided to do this for no particular reason other than I was bored with fishing and had done it before and I could do it now to show off. The fact the river was two feet or so higher than when I had done it previously didn’t enter the equation I had formulated in my head. On a whim, I removed nothing of my clothes or my shoes and jumped into the river alone and aimed my body at the other side.

I knew the current was swift over the rapids and it would push me so I would be swimming diagonally with the current. I fixed my vision on a point on the other side of the river a bit downstream from where I was entering and headed off. At first, the water was refreshing and felt good against my body as I measured my strokes evenly and methodically, but it soon dawned on me the river was not only deeper but also moving more swiftly requiring more effort from me to counteract as it pushed, pulled and tried to drag me down. As I continued I was confident in my ability to accomplish this task; after all, I had done it before. But about midway I found myself being pushed farther downstream as the current grabbed and dragged me in whatever direction it wanted.

I began to feel my muscles tire, and I could feel the fatigue creeping into my body. I began to feel panic but managed to keep it under control, knowing if I gave into the feeling, I would most certainly drown. I made myself concentrate on moving my arms in even strokes, breathing and not trying to fight against the current. The river being higher meant it was also wider, making me swim farther than I had previously. I kept myself focused on moving my arms and letting the current carry me until I could break its grasp. I thought how stupid I was to do this to show off when all I had to do was remain safe on the other side and spend time fishing and exploring. Yet here I was in the middle of a river that was higher than I was familiar with and maybe more than I could handle. I thought about how my mother would react to my death, what my brother would think, and my friends. I could see them gathered and staring at me in my casket. I swam harder until I finally cleared the rapids, broke the current’s grasp, and was back in calmer water.

I reached the bank, stood up and sloshed out of the river and sat down on the sandbar. I waved at Paul and Todd and then put my head down between my legs to hide the tears and muffle the sobs. I was scared but relieved I had made it. I returned by walking to the nearby Huntington Street Bridge and then rejoined my friends by walking back along the other bank. I had gotten away with showing off and I knew it. I had acted on impulse and managed to elude death for a while longer. I learned that showing off and giving in to your ego’s whims can be dangerous with catastrophic consequences. I also became aware of my own strengths. I was able to remain cool, keep a clear head, and keep focused on what I needed to do to overcome the situation I created for myself. Still, I missed a more important lesson it would take me far longer to learn.

The Last of the Flamin Hot Lovers

H/t instagram @mothermunster

When I think of youth and freedom and unbridled sexuality I think, as we all do, of Bud Lite Lime and Flamin Hot Cheetos.

When I was 21 this was my favorite dinner, it rang in at around 5 dollars and I had it 3–4 times a month.

In 2013 I had accidentally graduated college. I was supposed to stay into the fall semester but with two weeks to graduation one of my counselors decided I did, in fact, know enough ways to interpret The Yellow Wallpaper to go join the world. I panicked, I cried, and I skipped the ceremony because I had Fleetwood Mac tickets.

And with all that I was out in the world. Qualified to drink, tell jokes, and get paid in exposure.

After 4 years of putting in time at my shitty campus pub or really alienating the audience at poets only open micsI was finally ready to join the glamorous world of stand up

Stand up isn’t like how it is in movies, unless that movie is Requiem for a Dream. I haven’t even seen that movie but I hear it involves strangers forcibly touching butts which is basically a bringer show. While I’m at it stand up isn’t like how it is in tv either. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is like Bernie Sanders or Taylor Swift- I love them even if they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

In movies people mill around clubs unmolested and sipping cocktails. In the real stand up venues I’ve been to some of the following things have happened

  • I’ve pet several dogs including one perched on a shoulder like a parrot and one grown man in a dog mask.
  • Audible shitting
  • Figurative shitting
  • Female breasts, pert
  • Female breasts, droopy
  • The profile of a scrotum

All this is to say, in the summer of 2013 I was young, poor, and had the ability to buy booze but not the ability to buy nice booze. My approach to men was similar but more on that later.

On friday nights I’d go straight from my real job to a literal clubhouse to do an open mic and my dinner dujour was a bag of flamin hot cheetos and a tallboy of bud lite lime. I don’t think I’m embellishing at all when I say it was magnificent. I would buy it at the liquor store right next to the mic, right next to a store that sold pickled pig’s feets and always had several babies with pierced ears wandering around its aisles. I’d take this feast to the mic and sit in the back and crack up. When you’re a super earnest aspiring comic and you’ve been stuck in an office all day when people use words like “hysterical” and “banner ad” sincerely in the same sentence, listening to even the roughest jokes feels like a lime sliding into a just above water carbonated beverage. It was an oasis. My fingers were red and my heart was full.

I was single, and by single I mean I was occasionally sleeping with my improv teacher who wore a suit during sex. Not a bit. I was adrift, skinnier than I had ever been due to poverty and the fact that I had not yet discovered heavy drinking, and very turned on by vagrants speaking into microphones. There is nothing more attractive than watching a man speak into a microphone in the hazy halcyon days before you eventually find out via secret online forums that he’s said the N word.

When you see a smart man talking through written out witty observations into a mic you’re struck by his moxie, his passion. He could literally be talking about how he came on a woman’s back, threw a towel on it and called that move “the superman” and back then I’d still be like “wow he’s just like Carlin.”

All told I slept with three comics, made out with one against a Grateful dead pinball machine,and accidentally misread the sexual advances of several on early facebook. But to my cheap beer and cheetoh addled mind I was Carrie fucking Bradshaw wheeling and dealing in my sexual prime.

Or at least that’s how I remember it some nights. On my best days I’m really really happy and secure in a relationship that- were it a person would be in first grade by now. But sometimes, when I’m feeling especially coupled, when our idea of a flirty saturday night is laughing at farts and popping back pimples, I feel wistful for the hoe days. And yet, like the worst hoes, my memory of those days is untrustworthy.

When I’m wistful I’m remembering standing outside of the mic, pretending to smoke cigarette to talk to a boy- my Cheeto fingers staining the filter. I remember the rush of learning someone liked you back because they asked to “give them notes,” and the intrigue of trying to give those notes in a way that conveyed I was a) very funny and b)very good at oral. I’m remembering even the joy of walking into an empty apartment, beer drunk, high off a joke or actual bad weed and ready to jack it to an Amanda Palmer video in blissful, disgusting solitude.

But there’s a lot more to remember.

I’m forgetting the weirdness of someone treating watching the Star Trek porn parody as a great first date (this happened twice with two different people). The betrayal of someone swearing they’d be gentle with you only to practically gnaw off your head by giving you “their signature hickey.” I live a life now genuinely free of hickies, signature or otherwise, and honestly that is a positive.

I’m forgetting the mic where someone brought me up to the stage with the intro “speaking of rape, don’t rape our next comic.”

I’m forgetting the nights I spent alone freezing cold and waking up every 5 minutes to eyeball my window because I’d watched a particularly heinous episode of SUV and now I was afraid of getting murdered. It was Ingleside so at least that one was somewhat rational.

And when I’m wistful for those lean years I’m forgetting how truly fat and happy I am right now. I live in a small but cozy hole with a man who cracks me up (and to my knowledge never said the N word). Smart passionate men are still attractive to me but now I have one available 24/7. You know what else is hot? A sink empty of dishes….and that thing where you can see a little beep of pubic hair peeking out of boxer briefs while he’s downloading an episode of Anne with an E. I am stable and loved and it’s still thrilling. I feel like I’m my weirdest, funniest, most productive self, even though now I roast chickens and turn up my nose at anything with less than a 7% abv.

I still love stand up, and I’ll probably go to creepy bars to talk about my vagina as long as someone will invite me, but it’ll never be the same as those days and frankly I wouldn’t want it to be. Especially because,full disclosue, I DID have a joke where I said the N word. In my meager defense wasn’t the usted N word, more of the “tu” N word but still I had no business saying it so it’s a good thing those days are long long gone. I am different, I am better, I am happy. And on days when I feel most wistful for how things used to be I’ll remind myself that I just don’t have the stomach for it anymore.

A Productivity Reset: Taking Charge of the Week Ahead

By: STIL on Unsplash.com

“I can certainly say that this week hasn’t been the most productive for me, and I have spent a lot of it worrying about all of the things I have not yet done. Though, every morning this week I’ve spent time pondering the things I can change in the coming days, so that I can take charge of what’s left of this week, as well as the week to follow. I find comfort sitting at my desk every morning, getting my work done before the day truly begins — and while this hasn’t been occurring much this week (and every wave of productivity seems to be happening a bit too late), I’ve decided that it’s time for to reset. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I haven’t done as much work this week as I’d like, and I am doing the best I can to make the most of what’s left. So, I can focus my attention on the week to come, write content that excites me, as well as focus on meeting my deadlines.”

Sometimes, we just need to refresh the page. Sometimes, we just need a moment to center ourselves, forget about what we haven’t done over the last few days, as the time has passed and there is no changing that. Right now, what we need to focus on is what we can do with today. I woke up this morning, once again not really knowing where to start — and I certainly didn’t feel like getting out of bed this morning. However, I set that thought aside, and I’m here at my desk changing my perspective on the day. I know how fulfilling it is to get work done, to tackle the to-do list, to have ample time during the day to do what it is I love. I’ve worked so hard to change my productivity habits, as I’ve outlined in my previous post, and it is much easier these days to find my footing again when my motivation seems to dwindle.

So, I am going to continue sipping my London Fog, work my way through my edits, and free up a bit of time to run some errands today. I know that this weekend is going to be a busy one for me, but an exciting one nonetheless, so planning for this upcoming Monday has to begin right now. There was a time where I used to be quite hard on myself for missing blog posts on Mondays, as that was a schedule I had struggled to keep. Though, my current blogging schedule of Tuesday onwards has been working so much better and has been much more effective for me, as I now use Monday as my day to reset. It’s my day to plan, get ahead of the work for the week, so that the rest of the week goes as swimmingly as possible. I usually do not do too much work on the weekends, because I typically use Saturday-Sunday to really focus on personal time. This in itself has really helped to set myself up for a productive week because I’ve then had enough time to relax, and get ready to tackle the upcoming plans.

Right now, not only am I focusing my attention on the week to come, I am also taking the time to outline where I want to be by the end of the month, and the steps I need to take to move forward with my current projects. I would take a few extra minutes during my daily journal session to center my thoughts and focus my attention on the goals I want to achieve as well as track my progress. This way, my goals are always on my mind, and they are not on the back-burner hoping they achieve themselves someday.

When I’m having an off week, I believe its incredibly important to give myself time to deal with whatever is on my mind first, before getting back to work — even if that’s as small as brain dumping my thoughts out onto a journal page. It’s also important to remind yourself how far you’ve come, especially when you’re having a bit of an unproductive week. I know that this off week I’m having has been much more productive than some of the off weeks I’ve had in the past, and that is an accomplishment in itself. So, if you’re struggling to get yourself back on track, take a bit of time to reset, clear your head, before you start filling your calendar again.

This was something that I certainly needed to do, and it is why I am up, ready to work, and ready to tackle the rest of the day, week, and month.

I hope you all enjoyed post and I thank you for taking the time to read!

Are Electric Car Drivers Hypocrites? – Plants > People – Medium

Are Electric Car Drivers Hypocrites?

Hey y’all!

It’s me.

You know me.

I’m the treehugger you love to hate.

Now that I’ve thoroughly introduced myself, it’s time to bust some myths about green living. Let’s start with the misconception that electric cars are actually worse for the environment than regular cars. Where did this idea come from? Car manufacturers? Maybe. Oil companies? Most likely. The Koch brothers? Never heard of them.

Wherever the myth comes from, be aware that it is a myth. People attempt to validate this myth by arguing that electric cars run on electricity provided by power plants — which run on fossil fuels. Well, I have a PhD in Electric Cars, so I can break down the science behind this myth and debunk it for you.

It is true that electricity comes from power plants — including the electricity for electric vehicles. The fact that electricity for these cars is produced by power stations does not, however, mean they are worse than cars that consume gasoline. The difference between these two types of cars lies in their energy usage — where the electric car uses only two-thirds of the energy that a conventional car uses to travel the same distance. This is why electric vehicles are the green option.

Fossil Fuels are Brown, and Brown is Bad

Here’s a brief overview of fossil fuels, in which I have a PhD. There are three types of fossil fuels: coal, petroleum and natural gas. Each type is just a different form of the same materials — those materials being fossilized plant and animal remains that contain trapped energy. Here’s a formula for clarification:

Fossil Fuels = Fossilized(plants + animals)

I have a PhD.

We tap into this energy by extracting fossil fuels and burning them in power plants. Coal is extracted in solid form, petroleum is liquid and natural gas is what it says it is.

The type of fossil fuel that powers an electric car is dependent on the electricity grid through which the battery is charged. So you have cases where electric cars are powered by coal, which is not ideal for reducing carbon emissions. This is because the carbon dioxide output of coal power plants is significantly greater than that of gasoline or natural gas power plants. Electric cars powered by natural gas plants produce less than half the carbon emissions of a combustion vehicle.

As far as countries go, Canada isn’t doing too bad when it comes to our electric car emissions. We produce an average of 115g CO2e/km, compared to the 202g CO2e/km produced by the US. These numbers come from Shrink That Footprint, my best friend in my head.

Even When Electric Cars Aren’t Electric, They’re Still Electric

Realistically, not all electric vehicles run exclusively on electricity. While a pure electric car is fueled by rechargeable batteries, a plug-in hybrid car is powered by both a gasoline engine and an electric motor with a rechargeable battery. And then there are electric vehicles that are powered by the conversion of hydrogen gas to electricity via a hydrogen fuel cell. In any case, all of these options are still more efficient, and therefore more green, than the conventional car.

I am a Scientist, and I am Concerned

Another argument used to bolster the myth that electric vehicles are terrible for the planet is that the manufacturing of these vehicles produces higher emissions. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, manufacturing a mid-sized electric vehicle with an 84-mile range produces around 15% more emissions than manufacturing a comparable gasoline vehicle. The electric vehicle more than compensates for this over its lifetime. Within 18 months of driving, the electric car can make up for the 15% difference, and shorter range models can do this within six months.

Electric vehicles also have other forms of saving grace. If you don’t want to rely on electricity, you can install solar panels to the roof of your car. In addition to this, the batteries in electric cars can be recycled or repurposed.

I support businesses that support progression beyond the use of fossil fuels. To help you live your best electric car life, I recommend A.S. Electrical for installing an electric vehicle charger in your garage if you live in Ontario. Bonus: they also install solar panels if you’re thinking of making your car as efficient and ridiculous-looking as possible.

Image Source: A.S. Electrical

With all that said and done, are electric car drivers hypocrites?

No, they’re not. Anyone who says so doesn’t know any better. I know better because I have a PhD.

🤩🤮🤓

The Greyscale Effect: How Making Your Devices Black and White Can Improve Your Life

If you’re reading this article you probably have noticed that a pattern in your life is becoming strikingly clear. You are living a double life. You have your real life in the real world and your online life.

The lines separating the two is starting to blur. Just like myself you may find yourself stuck. Not being able to accomplish things consistently in the real world. You want to, but something is holding you back. Mindlessly scrolling facebook, twitter, reddit, etc. you might think it’s satisfying in the moment but deep down you know it isn’t.

People try to have conversations with you but you have become boring because all you think about is grabbing your phone and looking at it. You cannot think straight at all. You feel an emptiness than can only be filled by going online.

I started to realize I had a problem because I found myself doing absolutely nothing with my 2 year old daughter for hours at a time. I’d just put her kids youtube videos on the TV and bury my head in my phone. Hours would go by and I would only look up when she would come over to me wanting something.

This had to stop. I needed to spend actual quality time with my daughter. So I did my research. My belief is that this article will help you quit wasting valuable life experiences. Help you to spend the time in life you really want to be spending. Doing things you’ve been putting off because you don’t feel like you have the time. Spend more quality time with the people you love.

Time. It is everything. Wasting it on scrolling for hours or arguing with a random stranger about which Elder Scrolls game is best is an enormously useless endeavor.

Now I am not anti internet. It is an incredible tool for human beings. Using it responsibly is key. You can learn anything for free. Engrossing yourself in a hobby and diving in to everything that subject has to offer is rewarding. That’s just one of the ways the internet can be used responsibly.

We are here to tackle those hours long sessions of YouTube, Reddit, Porn, and social media. Those sessions are what is killing your creative thinking along with a myriad of other issues.

It’s a war. A war that you started. A war that only you can end.

The Greyscale Effect

When you look at your bright and shiny smartphone or laptop screen the colors pop. They make you excited. It’s almost like real life, even better than real life. Your brain is stimulated and you’re ready to dive in. It’s irresistible. It is part of what makes you pick it up in the middle of a conversation and ignore people.

We are going to take that away with a simple press of a few buttons.

We are going to make your phone or laptop black and white. No more colors. No more tricks sent out to your brain that this is akin to real life. This will make your devices much less interesting to you. Much more mundane.

After looking at a screen that’s black and white (greyscaled) the world in front of you is more vivid and exciting.

A simple google search will have the answers on how to do this with your selected device. This is a great starting point to eventually kick your addiction. If you were a drug addict this is essentially the beginning of weening. Slowly breaking down the walls that you have built.

Try it and you’ll find that the world around you it was is beautiful and more important than anything on your phone.

Next week I will be writing about quitting those time wasting apps and sites that are killing your ambitions.

Thanks for the support and I hope these articles will help some.

Blockchain Empowering an Efficient Electronic Medical Record System

From their childhood to their old age, people change their doctors a number of times. Considering that recording and storing health data on an electronic medium has been given utmost priority in recent times, the interoperability of these data stored by different doctors, working under different institutions has proved to fail.

As suggested by Premier Healthcare Alliance, this lack of interoperable electronic medical record costs over 150,000 lives each year along with an additional $18.6 billion.

Also, it must be noted, people cannot even themselves easily update their medical data as of now. All these problems together constitute to the siloing of important data that could make the health industry much more efficient and eminent.

This is where blockchain comes in.

How is Blockchain a boon for Electronic Medical Records?

Being a distributed ledger technology, potentially the best storage tech presently known, blockchain can very systematically improve the current scenario. Blockchain would help individuals gain power over their own medical records and keep a perfect track of major and minor health issues without any trouble. It would also help them have complete authority over their own data and grant access to it to only those doctors or institutions that they prefer to.

Not only that, the electronic medical records, which would be safely stored on immutable blockchain ledger, can be looked up in one go. Leaning forward into the future, any family member’s medical conditions could then be easily tracked down in case it is related to the genetic nature of the family. This would not only make it easy for doctors to recognize and understand the condition better but also smoothen the process of curing it.

The whole fuss about interoperability of electronic medical records would finally settle as blockchain would eradicate the obsolete system where different EMR management systems found it hard to comply with each other. With blockchain being used to store medical records securely, they would be accessible from anywhere across the globe without facing any compatibility issues.

Coming to one of the most basic and important pillars of the healthcare industry, trust, it can be assured that blockchain would elevate the trust that patients endow on their healthcare professional and the other way round. Having a clear and precise record, it would assure the patients that the professional they are entrusting their health upon has required expertise. Also, the doctors can rest assured that their patients have given them the exact information that was needed.

However, there are challenges. Many of them. Being the new technology it is, many still don’t quite understand the potential use of blockchain, or, at least, how to put it to use successfully. Even the stakeholders of the blockchain and healthcare industry are struggling to come up with a solution to scalability issue of blockchains.

There are successful attempts being made to come up with high-performance blockchain that may deliver the needed transaction speed. But keeping in mind the vastness of the medical industry, it is sure that the future of blockchain empowering an efficient electronic medical record system is still a little distant.

One such initiative — EMRchain.us — has been taken by Zoreum Labs.

Are you a part of a Hospital or EMR service provider? Come, let’s collaborate to leverage the technology in the Healthcare industry. Please contact us today to gather more information about EMRchain.us.

There Is A Crisis At The Border. But It’s Nothing A Wall Would Fix.

His emergency is solely to get the money for his wall he wants, and Congress denied. So Trump is now trying to conflate two very different issues: people trying to sneak into the country (where a wall might help), and families turning themselves in at the border, which is mainly what’s happening right now (and a wall wouldn’t make much difference at all).

In fact, as the Texas Tribune illustrates in the photo at the top (click on it for related story), the biggest increase in attempts by families to enter the U.S. has been in the area around El Paso, Texas, where there already is a lot of wall. And El Paso’s a city Trump often points to as proof a wall works. Just yesterday, Border Patrol says it took 700 people into custody in the El Paso area, mostly in groups “comprised primarily of Central American families and unaccompanied juveniles”.

As the Washington Post’s Nick Miroff Tweets, the recent increase is so large, it’s sneaking off the top of the graphic he links to. (It’s the red line).

We should point out the total number of people detained is only about half of what it was at its peak in the early 2000s. At that time, most of the people apprehended were single men. Now, it’s families. So while the number of individuals trying to come in is far short of historical highs, the number of families is at a record.

Also, back then, most of the people who were apprehended were trying to sneak into the country (which might be curtailed by a wall). Now a high percentage of those families are simply turning themselves in at the border and eventually requesting asylum (which a wall wouldn’t remedy not one bit). Not sneaking in, but turning themselves in.

Like it or not (and Trump doesn’t like it), U.S. asylum law states:

Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum….The applicant must establish that race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.”

In other words, if someone’s persecuted or in trouble right now, and can make it to this country, U.S. law allows them to apply for asylum. Especially if they are in mortal peril. Especially if they are from the same hemisphere.Many in the latest group come from Guatemala.

And there’s no doubt it’s overwhelming border agents, especially at remote, smaller border crossings, as well as hospitals, churches, and charity groups that assist refugees and take them in. In addition, according to the New York Times, there are already a record number of adults detained by Customs and Immigration: more than 50,000, and the government does not currently have the facilities to take any more into custody.

Congress did put significant money into the budget Trump just signed for increased personnel and equipment at border crossings. And they authorized more immigration judges (even though they didn’t authorize much money for the wall Trump wanted). The administration should be prioritizing putting that money to use, and fast.

And asylum laws probably do need to be revised. Or at least the ways in which people can apply for asylum. At least some of the ideas out there could probably be accomplished with bipartisan support. For instance, expanding a program where asylum seekers wait in Mexico during the time their claims are processed. (Trump announced that with great fanfare, but in practice the scope has been very limited). Or reviving an Obama-era program focused on protecting children, where asylum seekers were allowed to apply from their home countries, and if the threat to their safety was immediate and severe, could move temporarily to someplace safer in the region. (In the case of that program, Costa Rica). Except Trump killed that program. Instead, the Trump Administration has proposed something that looks similar but really isn’t: it wants to require asylum seekers to apply from their own countries, and makes no attempt to guarantee their safety in the interim. Which would probably reduce numbers of applicants, but also leave people in perilous situations. (If a gang was threatening to kill you, you might not want to sit around with your family waiting for an application to process).

Of course, the long-term solution is increased stability and prosperity in the region. Trump has threatened to take all U.S. aid away from Central American countries if they don’t shape up, or “STOP (END)” it as he says. And he’s already moved to slash aid significantly (for instance to Guatemala by 43%, even before his new threats). Most of U.S. aid for the region is designated for fighting drug trafficking.

Another thing that’s not really related, but keeps nagging at us anyway: when the issue was refugees from Syria, Trump made it a point to prioritize Christians when deciding who could come to the U.S. (although the Trump Administration still cut way back on the number of refugees admitted overall). Most of the families arriving at the border now are Christian. So if they’re from the Mideast it’s O.K., but from Central America no?

We believe the U.S. is a wealthy and caring enough nation that it shouldn’t just slam the door on people if they’re really in trouble. Walls are easy. They’re just concrete and steel. Take no courage to put up at all. Meaningful, compassionate policy change involving real people is hard.

Congress has come close a couple of times though. Most recently 4 years ago, with a bipartisan bill that flew through the Senate, but got killed in the House. That bill included a surprisingly large number of things Trump wants: an end to the “visa lottery” and what Trump calls “chain migration”, a new system for basing immigration on merit, hiring of tens of thousands of new border agents, and yes, $7.5-billion for a border fence (which is pretty close to what he’s expecting to get through his national emergency declaration). At the same time, that bill included a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country, a big expansion in the number of immigrants admitted every year through proper channels, and streamlining the asylum process to make it much easier for refugees to get in too. Is the level of compromise required to start discussing that kind of thing even remotely possible these days?

10 tips to calmly getting childcare right

Two months ago, I went through the heart-breaking experience of handing my child over to someone else to take care of him during the day. I had spent a lot of time planning everything and thought it would be as simple as dropping him off and picking him up at the end of the day. Well, it was not so simple in reality! It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

Walking away from YOUR screaming child is so hard, and for about two weeks, I would break down into tears as soon as I was outside. I felt like I was the worst mother in the world and I was convinced my child would be damaged for life. Two months later, I can happily report that we are both in a good place. There are still tears (from him!) but he usually stops a few seconds after I am gone. What I learnt from the experience is time, patience, planning and mindfulness are so important.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Here are my 10 tips to calmly getting childcare right.

  1. Do your research

It can be tempting (and easy) to just pick the closest nursery or the nanny recommended by your friend, but it is really important to think about your child and what environment will suit them. Some children thrive in a busy nursery environment whilst others need a quieter more controlled setting. Do some research into what the options are and what sort of activities your child will be engaged in. If it is nursery, do they have a good rating? What do other parents say? If it is a Childminder or nanny, do they have references? Are they registered with Ofsted?

2. Give yourself enough time for the transition

The transition to childcare for your child is a big one. All they have known up until now is you, your significant other and probably close family. Being left alone with a complete stranger can be very distressing for a child so making time for the transition is important. The transition will probably also be difficult for you too. Leaving your baby who you have been with every day since their birth can be very emotional. So give yourself time and not rushing the process will be best for both of you. Be sure to take time to manage your emotions as any anxiety you feel will be picked up by your child. Being mindful is key and will help you to acknowledge the negative emotions and focus on the positive ones.

3. Introduce new routine to your child over a week or two

Try to introduce the new routine to your child over a week or two. Make sure you are available to comfort or collect your child if needed. Try not to start childcare the week you start work. Starting back at work is stressful enough and you don’t want to double the stress unnecessarily. Be patient with your child and give them lots of hugs and cuddles when you see them.

4. Talk to your child about the changes that are happening

Children can understand so much more than we realise and talking to them about what is going to happen is very important. I found that telling my little boy every 15 mins before taking him to nursery helped to prepare him. If you have pictures of their nursery/nanny/childminder, show your child the picture and talk about what is going to happen.

5. Tell the childcare provider everything important about your child

Giving your childcare provider as much information as possible about your child is very important. Share information about nap times, sleep times, likes, dislikes etc. Establishing a good relationship with your childcare is absolutely key to success.

6. Always say goodbye when you leave your child but don’t linger

Saying goodbye in the early days can be very distressing for both child and parent. It is important to say goodbye but do not linger. Saying goodbye helps them understand that you are leaving but will come back. If you just disappear, they will be unsettled and anxious. The sooner you leave after saying goodbye, the easier it will be for your child to adjust to the new environment or arrangement.

7. At pickup always be full of hugs and smiles

Pickup time is my favourite part of the day for me. It is when I can give my little guy lots of hugs and cuddles and chat to him about his day. Be prepared for tears at first — this is just a build up of the emotions of the day coming out. By making a big deal at pickup, your child will look forward to the end of the day next time you drop them off.

8. Take time to find out how your child has fared every day

It is very important to take time to find out from your childcare provider how your child is doing every day. Here are some questions you could ask: How long were the naps throughout the day? How many times was the nappy changed? What was eaten for breakfast/lunch/dinner? Any instances of crying? Any issues or concerns

Your childcare provider should be able to provide you with all this information. If not, you should ask for this information to be provided.

9. Trust your instincts

It is very important as a parent to trust your instincts. If you feel your child is not coping/happy, talk to your childcare provider about what is going on. It does take some time for your child to adjust, but don’t underestimate your instincts.

10. Celebrate the good days

When you have good days, take time to celebrate with your child. Tell them how proud you are of them. It will help them to understand that everything is going well and all is good.

Getting childcare right can be tricky, but by approaching it in a calm and positive manner, you and your child will be less stressed and the experience will be more enjoyable for all.

What are your experiences of childcare? What tips would you share with new parents?

To share and find out more about how to parent in a happier, calmer and more mindful way, you can follow Happily Ever Calmer on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Heroin

Heroin classifications

Heroin falls into the opioid class, and is considered a schedule 1

Origin of Heroin

According to methoide.fcm.arizona.edu, all opioids as a whole originated as the milky substance from the opium poppy plant, which originates from Southern Asia. Heroin itself was originally a stronger form of morphine, a pain killer, and was marketed in the 1890’s as a miracle drug for pain. By 1910 it was outlawed in the United States.

Street Names of Heroin

Heroin is commonly referred to as smack, tar, mud, brown sugar, and dope.

Ways Heroin is used

It looks like a fine, white powder and can be smoked, snorted, injected, and is commonly though of a being heated over a lighter on a spoon. Most often it is injected directly into the blood stream.

Heroin’s entry process into the United States

Heroin is made by extracting the milky substance from the opium poppy plant, which needs to be grown in a warm climate. It is the mixed with the chemical acetic anhydride to produce heroin. Most of this occurs in Mexico or South America and is smuggled across the United State’s southern boarder where it is illegally sold.

Typical Heroin users

Heroin is most commonly used by people ages 18 to 25. However, many become addicted to pain killing opioids when they are prescribed them legally for things like broken bones. Those pacientes become addicted and when their prescriptions end they pursue illegal opioids, like heroin.

effects of heroin

According to www.dea.gov, kusing heroin can cause long term imbalances in the neuro and hormonal systems as well as the long term deterioration of the brain’s white matter. Short term heroin usage is known to cause warm flourishing of the skin, dry mouth, nausea, itching, drowsiness, lower reactions, and cloudiness of the mind.

Addictiveness of Heroin

Heroin is a highly additive opioid, mostly due to its high amounts of morphine which stimulates the brain and causes future cravings.

Heroin statistics

Based on the data of drugfreeworld.org, heroin is used by aproximadamente 9.2 million people. And around only 1.2% of high school seniors have experimented with heroin. 87% of all heroin is produced in Afganistan.

Robert Downy Jr’s experience with heroin

Before he was Iron Man Robert Downy Jr was know for is drug abuse, specifically heroin, this drug abuse nearly ruined his career. Yet, he managed to save his acting career by landing the role Tony Stark in Marvel’s Iron Man.

Culture Series : Part 01

I’m just trying to wrap my mind around this buzzword “culture”.

Review : Six Marks of a Church Culture that Deeply Changes Lives: Part 1

The discussion about ‘culture’ is popular, but its substance is elusive. While defining culture is important, creating culture is the real work. I found this podcast helpful as I thought through the various ways that I can contribute to healthy culture creation in my various environments. I have lots of thoughts, so I might make lots of entries…

The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast : Six Marks of a Church Culture that Deeply Changes Lives : Part 1

First, Peter Scazzero, the author of this podcast, says something early on that you could easily miss, but it is extremely important. He says, “God always intended that the church as a culture would be radically different than the world around [it]” (00:40). In his book “Community” (Crossway, 2011), Brad House makes a similar claim when he says, “The church living out its faith in community with a love for Jesus and a love for its neighbors can provide an antidote for a transient society… The church has an opportunity to provide an alternative to a nomadic culture, and, by doing so can connect with a longing in the hearts of disconnected people” (Community, p.114). This is important because it’s at the heart of what makes the most renown cultures so magnetic. The church should indeed be the foremost culture that “can connect with a longing in the hearts of disconnected people”. But whatever culture you’re seeking to create should have a similar aim. It should be a powerfully compelling alternative to the not-so compelling norm and meet “a longing in the hearts” of people. That’s what makes a culture magnetic.

What longing do you hope to connect with in the hearts of people?

Second, Scazzero has chosen six specific ‘marks’ of what he calls “a church culture that deeply changes lives”. Within this statement are a couple assumptions. You must determine how they apply to you…

The context he is focusing on is his own, the church. Even if you’re not a church person, you can take the same approach to your own context. If you are a manager, could you be seeking “a company culture that deeply changes lives”? If you are a coach, could you be seeking “a team culture that deeply changes lives”? You might have multiple contexts. Or you might only be focusing on one.

What is your context?

Next, you must determine what you ultimately desire your culture to produce. “Deeply changed lives” is the ultimate outcome that Scazzero hopes to produce. Personally, as a coach I think about creating “a team culture that produces a legacy of champions”. As a leader in my organization I think about creating “a company culture where people flourish together”. You might simply want to create “a group culture where people are happy”. Whatever your desired outcome is, you must capture it. This is where culture and mission are inseparably linked (More on that thought later).

What are you ultimately hoping to produce as a result of your culture?

This leads to the final assumption that you not only have clarity about what your desired outcome is, but you have great clarity about what you must do to achieve that outcome in a way that can be measured or tracked.

After only having read the podcast title, I remember thinking, “Oh, that’s what Scazzero is aiming for in his church – deeply changed lives. I like that.” Before hearing any details at all, it was immediately clear to me what his church is aiming for. That’s powerful.

But stop there and it’s all for nothing. Stop there and it’s pie in the sky: something that is pleasant to contemplate but is very unlikely to be realized. Scazzero must know precisely what it means to “deeply change a life”. He must know what needs to be done to achieve that outcome, and he must know how to measure progress. Without these things, he wouldn’t know if he hit the target, and though he and his people might be inspired about the idea, they would wane and/or lose focus as a result of not knowing whether or not they were actually making progress. Sadly, I think a ton of organizations experience this. Tons of organizations experience pie in the sky.

Thankfully, the six marks that Scazzero will explore are precisely what he has defined as the key indicators of a deeply changed life. To Scazzero, these six marks are the visible and measurable expressions of a culture that deeply changes lives, and a church that accomplishes its mission. Scazzero has some really good ideas, but your marks don’t have to be the same as his marks. This is where the real (and fun) work begins of actually creating culture — the behaviors, norms, habits, and artifacts of your group. Some synonyms for ‘marks’ could be ‘indicators’, ‘measures’ or ‘distinctives’. Start identifying them.

What are the marks that indicate progress toward your most desired outcome?

These ‘marks’, and the visible and measurable expressions of them are your culture.