Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quebec Maritime Photo - 2

Quebec Maritime’s Parc Beauséjour that’s set along the Saint Lawrence River is idyllic for an urban cross-country skiing adventure. Numerous outdoor sculptures pepper the riverfront landscape. This scenic, placid park is located in the city of Rimouski. I wish I were there now. 

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Quebec Maritime: Photo

When the thaw started, several colorful ice fishing huts had been pulled off the ice of the Saint Lawrence River in the city of Rimouski in Quebec Maritime. 

As I’m self-isolating and self-distancing, I continue to create by posting photos from my previous travels. Each image inspires and calms me, helping me re-experience all the wonders the Earth offers us. And when this pandemic passes, each of these photos can provide all of us with ideas for future travels.
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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Protecting Myself From Coronavirus

Many people are asking me what I’m doing during this
coronavirus pandemic. I’m certainly overly cautious,
especially given my background in microbiology, physiology
and epidemiology. Now, in New York City, we have to social-distance, and notgo out of the house, except for necessities. Given that I live in a distant NYC suburb without a car, I have to venture out on foot to buy groceries. Here’s 
what I do.

Whenever I have access to soap and water, I thoroughly
wash all the surfaces of my hands.

I carry Purell in my pocket and use it liberally when soap and
water is not available.

I don’t touch my hands to my mouth, eyes or nose.

I also carry Lysol wipes and use this on any surface I will be

I don’t get within six feet of anyone. 

Whenever I have to open a door or touch a handrail, I do
so with a Lysol wipe in my hand or I wear one cloth glove.
But the glove, of course, becomes contaminated and, once
I get home, I disinfect it by rinsing in chlorine. (I don’t let
the glove touch my bare hands or anything else I will be

I use a diluted solution of alcohol on my iPhone if it was
somehow set on a surface that I neglected to wipe down with Lysol.

While I’ve seen people reusing N-95 masks or surgical masks
-- the latter are not effective against the coronovirus -- most
are single-use masks and are not to be reused. In addition,
if you are wearing a mask and you take it off, you have to properly
clean your hands that touched the mask.
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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Dispelling Myths on Coronavirus

I've been traveling recently. And, whether I was on NJ Transit to Newark Airport or catching up with friends and colleagues on Facebook, I sadly have been confronted with a lack of understanding of science and infectious disease, in this case the coronavirus epidemic (pandemic). Here are some of the myths and facts related to the coronavirus outbreak:

Myth: If you got a flu shot and maybe the pneumonia vaccine, you're ok.

Fact: Not true. Though getting both the flu and pneumonia vaccines (if you are over 65) would reduce the likelihood of you getting either disease that would compound your problems, they do not protect you from the coronavirus.

Myth: Scientists will have a coronavirus vaccine in a couple of months.

Fact: Not true. The development of a vaccine that will be used in humans requires a number of steps that require clinical trials, first with a small number of subjects and then with a much larger sample size. That being said, it's likely we will not see a vaccine for at least a year or more.

Myth: Only old people get sick from the coronavirus.

Fact: Though we are not seeing very young children getting sick, one of the early cases of coronavirus on the west coast was a teenager. And now there are reports that large percentages (almost 40%) of hospitalized cases in the U.S. are in ages 20s to 50s. Though most of the deaths have been among older people. Anyone can get sick with the coronavirus, though most everyone will have mild symptoms. But anyone who is immunocompromised or has an underlying health condition (such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cardiac disease) -- especially if they are older -- has an increased risk of a more serious illness.

Myth: Coronavirus doesn't stay on surfaces for very long so there's no worries about touching a surface that hasn't been in use for awhile.

Fact: It's believed that the coronavirus can remain viable on surfaces for several hours up to a few days. But it depends on the surface and the amount of virus. For example, the virus may remain viable longer on metal than cloth surface. If you think a surface may be contaminated, use a disinfectant cloth (such as Lysol) to wipe it down and, of course, wash your hands with soap and water, or, if it's not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.

Myth: Taking vitamin C supplements, drinking green tea, eating garlic, or ingesting probiotics can help prevent coronavirus.

Fact: No. These natural remedies will neither protect you from this novel coronavirus nor can they treat the condition should you become sick. Neither will antibiotics work as a treatment since this is a viral infection, not a bacterial illness.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Protecting Yourself From The New Coronavirus

Most people don't have a background in microbiology or infectious diseases. So, it's understandable why many are either in a state of denial or a state of panic regarding the new (novel) coronavirus outbreak that started in China and now has spread to numerous countries, including the U.S.

This virus tends to lodge in the lungs. It typically presents with fever, coughing and fatigue. Most people may feel like they would when they get a bad flu. But if someone is immunocompromised, is older and not well because of another condition (such as respiratory or cardiac problems), the symptoms may worsen to shortness of breath and require hospitalization.

Here's what you need to know to protect yourself:

Wash your hands thoroughly and often whenever you touch a surface of any sort or if you touch another person, as in shaking hands (which you should avoid).

When washing your hands with soap and water, do so for at least 20 seconds.

When soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Do not use a non-alcohol-based sanitizer.

Don't touch your hands to your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.

In your home or office, use a disinfectant wipe or spray to clean surfaces.

Though there's no vaccine for coronavirus as yet and probably won't be for at least a year or so, you should make sure that you've gotten a flu vaccine as well as the vaccinations for bacterial pneumonia (pneumococcal pneumonia). Though neither of these vaccines will have anything to do with preventing the new coronavirus infection, getting these vaccinations makes it less likely that you are not otherwise medically compromised and that you'll have the need to visit a hospital or doctor's office where you'd be in close proximity to other sick people.

If you become sick, stay at home so that you don't spread any infection to others.

When you sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, for example, to prevent droplets with infectious organisms from spreading to others or to surfaces. Throw these tissues in the garbage rather than letting them touch a surface. Otherwise sneeze or cough in the crook of your elbow.

If you know people who are sick -- they have a fever or are coughing and/or sneezing -- don't get closer than six feet or so from them.

There is no need to buy any sort of face mask. The N-95 is what's used by health professionals who are treating sick people. And the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend these masks for the public. And the cotton-type surgical mask won't do much of anything in terms of protecting you should someone who coughs or sneezes near you. That's because it doesn't fit tightly to your face nor does it have small enough pores to prevent droplets from entering.

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Well-Stocked Traveler's First-Aid Kit

Most people skimp on first-aid supplies when traveling, thinking they'll find whatever they need once they're at their destination (should anything untoward occur). That's definitely not the case. Imagine if you're a woman in a country where you don't speak the language and, in the middle of the night, you realize you have a vaginal infection. Good luck finding treatment or relief. The same goes for going off the beaten track only to find that you've been stung by a jellyfish or you brushed against poison ivy. Or if you're sitting beside a campfire and an ash flies into your eye. What do you do?

For these and many other reasons, I always carry a well-stocked first-aid kit when I travel. Below are my recommendations. You'll notice that I've grouped the supplies into categories based on symptom or body organ/system, which makes it easier to determine what you need for what ails you.

Bites, Stings, Rashes, Burns

Benadryl cream - for itching
Aloe vera gel - for sunburn relief
IvyBlock - to prevents poison ivy rash
Calamine lotion -- for rash/itching
Antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine -- for allergies or rash/itching
Hydrocortisone cream - for rash/itching
Tecnu - poison ivy skin cleanser
After Bite -- for itching after a "bug" bite

Cuts, Blisters and Bruises

Betadine or other antiseptic wipes
Bacitracin topical antibiotic cream
Blister kit with moleskin
QuikClot - to stop bleeding fast
Spenco 2nd Skin squares/pads - for blister protection
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain and fever
Bandage strips (in a variety of sizes) as well as “butterfly”-type bandages
Nonstick gauze squares and gauze roll
Ace-type, elastic wrap bandages
Adhesive tape
Aquaphor ointment - for blisters 
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat, Teeth

Eye Wash
Lubricating Eye Drops
EarPlanes to unclog ears on the plane
Saline nasal spray

Stomach Issues

Bonine - for motion sickness
MiraLax - for constipation
Pepto Bismol chewable tabs - for diarrhea and to prevent traveler's diarrhea
Electrolyte replacement powder - for diarrhea
Peppermint Tummy drops - for stomach upset

Women's Needs

Diflucan (single oral dose) - prescription pill for vaginal infection
Monistat vaginal cream - for vaginal infection

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Packing With Only A Carry-On

I never check luggage. Even when I’m on the road for six plus weeks, I only travel with a carry-on bag and a small backpack, along with my 7-in-1 wallet. Checking luggage has no upside. It’s expensive and time consuming. I like to jump off the plane and hit the ground running. No waiting at the carousel for luggage. Here’s how I do it:

On the plane, I wear my heaviest items, including my bulkiest outer wear and shoes/boots. Aside from a dress, on the plane I wear black leggings, a merino wool hoodie, and a merino wool or fleece sweater/jacket, and a down vest that doubles as a pillow.

I choose clothing that in neutral or earth tones, often black, tan or grey -- so there's a lot of mix and matching -- with tees, tanks and a scarf providing bright accent colors.

Almost all the clothes I pack do not wrinkle and are made of wickable fabrics, which means they don't absorb moisture easily so you stay dry as you race about town, but they also dry relatively quickly when you wash them. (I hand wash my underwear, pants, shorts, dresses and shirts and they dry in no time.)

When packing my bag, I roll all the clothing. 

Here’s what I pack in my carry-on:
2 dresses
1 pair of pants (that convert to shorts)
2 t-shirts
2 long sleeve shirts
1 tank top
1 buff (that doubles as a scarf/hat)
1 rain jacket
1 pair of Mary Janes or sandals
3 pair of socks (Merino wool)
3 pairs of underwear (Merino wool)

Here’s what I pack in my small backpack:
iPhone plus bluetooth keyboard
First-aid kit
Vitamin supplements
Toiletries in travel sizes that fit in the TSA-recommended bag
Charging cords and international plug
Earplugs and eye mask

My 7-in-1 Wallet contains:
credit cards
drivers license
lip balm
cell phone
business cards

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Culinary Delights in St. Kitts

Unlike Nevis, its tiny, placid sister island that’s a mere
seven minutes away by water taxi, St. Kitts buzzes with
an overabundance of large cruise ship activity, with
travelers gravitating to casinos, zip lines and ATV vehicles.
However, I sought out and found the serene side of this
island, including chill restaurants that satisfy all tastes,
whether vegan or confirmed meat eater. The photos (below)
reflect some of the scrumptious desserts served at the
MangoLand Cafe, an informal eatery where guests sit in
the placid backyard in the shade of, what else, but
mango trees. This is my latest article for Forbes on St. Kitts. 

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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Safely Walking on Icy Surfaces

As I walk in cold climates where icy streets are the norm, I’m always
observing how people walk on slippery surfaces. Many people break
their shoulder, arm, wrist or hip when falling on a slick sidewalk.
There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of falling.

Here are a few:

Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets. Instead, keep your
arms by your side.

Take small steps and keep your weight forward, on the front of your foot,
rather than leaning back or putting your weight on the back of your foot

Look for parallel surfaces, such as sand, grass, snow or even gravel, that
are not slippery and that you can safely navigate to your destination.

When stepping off a curb, do so cautiously, placing your foot straight down,
rather than taking a big step far from the curb, which can place you off balance.

When walking down outdoor steps, especially steep, long ones that are
found at many outdoor metro stations, always hold the rail.

    Wear shoes or boots that have great traction. I’ve written about a company that sells shoes and boots with tiny cleats, such as Ice Bug.
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