Hug Again!

When social distancing ends, I plan to hug again. I’ll shake hands too, and don’t plan on wearing a mask. Why?

In order to beat Covid, we need herd immunity. Does this mean all this social distancing was for no reason? Nope, social distancing and wearing masks today is not an attempt to stop herd immunity, just slow it down (see my last post: Social Distance for More Better Care).

Social distancing has a purpose. It is to slow down a virus for which there’s no vaccine and for which herd immunity does not yet exist. It is to avoid overwhelming a healthcare system that cannot handle a year of capacity in two months.

Hugging also has a purpose. In addition to making a meaningful connection between beings (I say beings because animals hug too!), hugging improves our immune system. Passing germs is the only way to gain herd immunity.

Indeed! We need both! Social distancing AND hugging.

Two years ago before we ever heard of a Covid, did I social distance AND hug. Yes! Of course, we have all likely chosen to socially distance in the past.

Two years ago, What if I had come into contact with someone who had the flu? What if I wasn’t showing symptoms? I would have held off on visiting my immunocompromised mother for a couple of weeks.

Social distancing has always been smart when wanting to avoid spread of an illness to an at risk population. There’s other times that it makes sense too. Stay home when you’re sick so as to not infect the whole office or school. If an athlete manages to get his whole team sick at the same time, it could wreck the season.

Social distance so that the whole team doesn’t get sick at the same time. AKA – Flatten the Curve. If a team flattens the curve, the odds of any one player getting sick doesn’t change, but they won’t all get it at the same time. Flatten the curve and Win.

Otherwise, HUG.

Health & Happiness for All


Social Distance for More Better Care

Please social distance so healthcare providers can see MORE patients and save MORE lives.  Yes. MORE. And that’s a GOOD thing.

Social distancing helps flatten the curve.  That is, the odds of getting the virus don’t change.  But the odds of surviving the virus DO change.

It’s not about IF getting the virus.  It’s about WHEN getting the virus.

Social distancing is not about protecting ourselves from getting the virus.  Social distancing is about slowing down the spread of the virus.

A flat curve means everyone that gets the virus gets care.  A flat curve means that MORE patients get care. A flat curve means health care providers are more rested, focused, and properly protected and able to give BETTER care.  A flat curve means need-a-bed, get-a-bed. It means need-a-ventilator, get-a-ventilator.

If you sold pizzas and your maximum capacity was to produce 100 pizzas a day.  To get a new oven will be at least one week from now. But, you need all the customers you can get to afford that new oven.  Would you rather get 700 customers today and only sell 100 pizzas? OR, would you rather get 100 customers today, 100 tomorrow, and 100 every day for the full week?  By the end of one week, you will have sold 700 pizzas and next week, you’ll be ready to sell 200 pizzas a day. Flatten the curve. Sell MORE pizzas.

Flatten the curve so that the healthcare system can serve MORE patients.  Flatten the curve so that the healthcare system can have the time it needs to build capacity.

Health & Happiness for All


Canceling Sports and Covid-19

Respectful from the Start

I wouldn’t be adding to the deluge of opinions on Covid-19 if I weren’t honestly attempting to add value.  I also want to start by saying that global, federal, state, and local leaders, both from the public and private sector, that have decision making authority with public safety implications are in a tough spot.  I don’t envy their jobs.  Lastly, people are reacting differently to Covid-19 and I just want to encourage respect for all people in dealing with this global health crisis.

At the end of the day, this post is intended to be helpful for all people interested in slowing down the spread of Covid-19.

Point Counterpoint:
Cancelations and Quarantines

There’s significant evidence that Covid-19 could break our healthcare system and lead to unnecessary deaths if the disease spikes too rapidly.  The best piece of factual reporting on this topic that I have read is How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart by 

Indeed, canceling events and self-quarantines will likely save lives.

BUT, should we be canceling ALL events?

Yesterday was a personal test of higher order thinking:

  • Major sporting events and seasons were canceled and/or postponed.  My reaction was that this sucked for everyone involved, players and fans, but ultimately was sound thinking.
  • My mother was put in a rehab facility that is quarantining all of their patients from any visitors.  No family members, loved ones, nor friends can visit.  The sad reality of the elderly passing away alone in nursing homes became very real.  My reaction was that this was beyond sad.  But it is also sound thinking as tough as a decision this is to make.
  • My son’s high school baseball season was postponed, including all practices.  My reaction?  This is negligent.

“Negligent”???  Sure, the response is strong.  It was my honest reaction.

As a Professor, I take seriously teaching our youth critical thinking skills and higher order thinking.  So, when having reactions like these, I need to take my own medicine.  I need to do the homework and do that critical thinking.

The Logic

#FlattenTheCurve is sound judgement to slow the spread of Covid-19 and spare a crippling effect on our healthcare system.  It is in many ways the 2nd order effects of the illness that will result in deaths not caused by the virus itself.  Rather, they may be deaths due to those that need care for other reasons being denied  from an overwhelmed system of care.

So, when considering a response to Covid-19, also consider the higher order impacts.

Canceling major sporting events that draw crowds in the 10s of thousands may suck.  But, it is sound thinking.

Quarantining at risk populations such as the elderly in nursing homes is very sad.  But, it is sound thinking.

Canceling high school sports???  Let’s think about the higher order impact.

High school student athletes are among the healthiest group of young adults.  They can carry Covid-19 with little to no symptoms.  They are involved in an activity that has a built in quarantine.  They are a small group that spend nearly all waking hours together practicing and playing.

What happens when state and local sports associations and school districts cancel sports, including practices?  What will these 15-18 year olds do with the sudden spike of free time?

A good friend of mine noted that their high school lacrosse team self quarantined in an ice cream shop.

I call it negligent behavior because those making these decisions are trying to do the right thing.  But in effect what they’ve done is to reverse the built in quarantine of high school sports.  Their second order impact has released a potentially contagious yet healthy group of young adults into an unusual array of locations they would otherwise not be found.  This can have the opposite effect of flattening the curve of Covid-19, and instead be a contributing factor to spreading the disease.

High School Athletic Associations and Local School Districts should consider sound thinking regarding sports.  Even if schools get canceled, which may or may not be sound thinking, they may want to consider keeping sports in place.

There are some sound considerations these organizations can make.  Consider limiting fans to under 100 people.  Consider restricting travel to teams outside of a geographic region.  Consider postponing large tournaments and events that do draw the bigger crowds.  Consider distancing measures, such as limiting post game handshakes.  Consider hygiene measures, such as having the players bring their own personal water bottles and not sharing from a cooler.

Canceling practice?  This is where negligence shines the brightest.  This is an isolated space of young, healthy athletes together under the leadership of their coaches.  There’s literally no better place for these young adults to be for the health and wellbeing of our own families and loved ones that are at risk of Covid-19.

Respectfully and Considering Health & Happiness for All


Ignorance is not Bliss

A few years ago I was at a conference and heard a speaker speaker say:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

He attributed the quote to Mark Twain.  I liked it and wanted to use it myself in future speaking engagements.  Wanting to ensure I got the quote right, I researched it that night.  The result was interesting … there was no record of Mark Twain ever using it.

Was the speaker being intentional?

Not long after,  I noticed the quote as it appeared during the opening of motion picture, “The Big Short.”

Now that must have been intentional, right? I hope so. I can’t imagine producing a movie and accidentally using a _fake_ Mark Twain quote.

At the moment, I’m reading12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson. And here it is emerging again in Peterson’s outstanding book which dives deep into philosophy, religion, and history to devise a set of rules to manage the chaos of life.  And, if everyone followed, potentially make the world a better place. I might disagree with Peterson on some points here and there throughout the book, but, on the whole, he’s hard to argue with.

So when Jordan Peterson refers to a fake Mark Twain quote, it has to be intentional. I hope it was, and intend to tweet on the topic too see if we can hear from Peterson himself about his intentions of using it.

The answer might be obvious…, but, it would be fun to hear his thoughts.

Health & Happiness for All

Fun and Personal Opinion

Use Everything

This morning I had an egg sandwich for breakfast.  It wasn’t any egg sandwich though.

You see, I’m visiting my parents in the town I grew up in, in the very house I grew up in.  Mom’s going to be 79 soon, and Dad recently turned 80.  They use everything.

When mom makes a chicken, or any meat with a bone, she’ll save the bones, and make a broth.  Fat drippings, reused.  Containers, zip lock bags, and most things I might call trash, they reuse.

I’m a critical thinker and I care about the environment.  So I ponder questions like, “Are electric cars really better for the environment?”

Just the other day, I saw a Tesla with a vanity plate.  It was something like 0EMISSIONS or ZEROEMSN or whatever it was, read out loud, “Zero Emissions.”

I wanted to meet this person and understand how they justified that claim, and in general, what they thought about the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and higher order environmental impacts of the car.

What do you think about nuclear power plants, coal mines and coal energy plants, and other sources of electricity, including the waste that those plants create for our world?

What about other natural sources of energy? Solar, Wind, Waterfall? Have you considered the environmental impacts of those plants, what materials are used to construct them, capture the energy, and convert that into electricity?

What about the oil used to lubricate the components of that Tesla engine?

What about the batteries, how they are produced, and discarded, and that impact on our global environment?

What about the power exchanges from original source, through transformers and power lines all along the way, to the charging station, to the car’s battery, and then finally converted to locomotion?

I don’t have the answers to these questions.  Nor do I know what is better for our environment, gas guzzlers or electric cars.  What I do know is that the answer isn’t as easy as, “Zero Emissions.”

So yesterday, Mom and I went to the town’s farmers market and bought eggplant.  Last night, mom and I (mostly mom), made eggplant parmesan.  This consisted of flour, then egg, then frying, before layering into a dish with gravy and cheese.

There was a little egg left when we were done frying all the eggplant.  Mom said, “that pan’s still hot, fry up the rest of that egg.”

“This egg that we used for the eggplant?”

“Yes. That egg.”

Wrapped up in a likely previously used plastic, I found that fried egg in the refrigerator this morning, and used it to make a breakfast sandwich.

While I’m not so certain about electric cars, recycling plants, and solar power’s total impact on our environment … I do feel pretty good about using that egg.

Health & Happiness for All


Can Caring Build Courage?

A few years ago I was going through a particularly stressful time.  It must have showed, because during class, one of my students rose her hand and asked a question: “Dr. DiMeo, do you know how stress can save your life?”

Minutes later; the whole class was watching a TED Talk she shared with me, as an answer to her own (rhetorical) question:
How to make stress your friend by Kelly McGonigal

If you have 15 minutes, take it to watch Kelly get down to the science of how attitude towards stress is a life or death decision.  This attitude can capitalize on a natural biological response that encourages us to be more caring and to face challenges with courage.

Spring training is underway…  and with baseball on the mind, I’m recalling this morning a couple of coaching mantras:

  • Control what you can control
  • There’s two things you can control: Attitude and Effort
  • Look forward…, it’s about the next play

Maybe you hit a home run, extended your lead, relaxed and took the foot off the pedal…, only to find yourself falling behind later in the game.

Maybe you struck out, got frustrated, and made an error the next inning in the field.

These mantras in baseball are about not letting the past, whether good or bad experiences, impact the future.  We can’t control the past.  We also can’t control the future.  But what we can control is our attitude and effort, which could impact our next play…, impact the future.

Attitude Impacts Outcome

What might be intuitive to the mental game of baseball is what led to this morning’s aha moment.

I saw Kelly’s talk years ago…, and I believe it.  Our attitude towards stress has health, caring and courageous implications.

The aha moment  is the part where “Attitude” is one of those things we CAN control.  That, combined with the other thing we can control, “Effort” – gives us tools to choose, proactively, making our world a healthier and happier place for all.

Control what you can: Attitude and Effort

A student in a class choosing an attitude that stress is a healthy human response, took the effort to help another person.  She certainly changed my life forever.

Choosing an attitude that is positive…
Making efforts that are helpful…
…have a physiological effect on our body that is healthy, makes us more empathetic, more caring, and more courageous to meet life’s daily challenges, whether in baseball or in business; in school or social settings; and with family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.

Health & Happiness for All


Why? A Federal Funding for Research Case

Been exploring “What Matters” and “Starting with Why” over the last few weeks on this blog and thought it would be interesting to do some case studies on topics that are of particular interest to innovators.  Things like:

  • Why Federal Funding for Research?
  • Why Patent Law?
  • Why Quality Systems and Regulations?

Federal Funding.  Why?

As an academic and entrepreneur, it’s my opinion that federal funding for research is looked at as a zero-sum game.  There’s this finite pot of money, shrinking, that has a growing number of researchers competing for dollars.  Maybe that’s more like a negative-sum game.

What if we could raise all ships?  What if we could grow the pot of money?

Here’s another question:
Why research for the sake of research?

There’s no question that basic science research, especially that happening in academia, should not be biased by external commercial pressures.

But why does federal funding for research exist at all?
Is it for promotion and tenure?  Is it for keeping our technology company doors open with an SBIR grant?

Why would any government, anywhere in the world, take it’s tax payers dollars and grant them to support basic science research?

My opinion…, why, is for the return on investment.

And what is that return?
I’m thinking: the health and wellbeing of our citizens and to improve the economy of our nation.

Interestingly enough, the NSF and the NIH both have programs to promote innovation:

The NSF I-Corps program prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory, and accelerates the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded, basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization.

The NIH C3i Program is designed to provide medical device innovators with the specialized business frameworks and essential tools for successful translation of biomedical technologies from the lab to the market.

Why do they have these programs?

Imagine an NIH Program Officer making a case to our federal government to keep the program funded.  What is the case they are making?

The Mission and Goals of the NIH include:

  • enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness
  • enhance the Nation’s economic well-being
  • ensure a continued high return on the public investment in research

So…, is the case they are making to point to examples that show the investment made in a grant returned enhanced health and improved economy for our nation?  I’m thinking so.

How hard do they have to look to find these examples?

While research for the sake of research protects scientists from biasing their work based on commercial pressures…  Don’t those same scientists have an obligation to use those federal funds considering the potential for commercialization?  (in other words… an obligation to the mission of the funds)

I think the NSF I-Corps program and the The NIH C3i Program both were implemented to increase the success rate of basic research that results in commercial products to improve our economy and health.

Imagine if every researcher that wrote NIH and NSF grants did it with this higher purpose, this higher “why“, in mind.

Would the results of that research lead to more commercialization?

Would that increased commercialization lead to a stronger case for that Program Officer to keep the program funded?

Can you imagine a world where the politicians allocating federal funding simply can’t ignore the return on investment from the NIH and NSF?  Where the improvement to our economy and our health is easy to trace back to that federal funding?  Where the pot of money available to basic research is growing?

I can.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic.

Health & Happiness for All