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Experts In Their Field

It was my first day attending an arts class in college. The teacher stood in front of the class and clarified the purpose of the class:

“In this class we will learn about the great artists in history. We will look at paintings, music, architecture, poetry and sculptures. All of these pieces from history have come from the experts in their field. This is not a class to decide which of this art is a masterpiece and which is not. This class will help you to recognize fine art. It’s not the pieces that are on trial here. It is your ability to recognize them.”

A building in Barcelona by Antoni Gaudí

I was not expecting that. It sure set the tone for all of us. I learned about many pieces in that class. I can’t remember most of it. More than anything else, I came to appreciate “experts in their field.”

In an internet era, we all are susceptible to false expertise. Social media, Wikipedia, and even search engines can bring confirmation bias. You find what you are looking for even if it’s not right. 

First hand experience is often filtered until facts are lost and agendas are found. False expertise can be deceiving.

Expertise and the pandemic 

Early in the pandemic there were a lot of questions. That’s a good thing. In science, questions are how we make progress. If you use the scientific method for long enough, then you find answers. The experts in the scientific world got to work. It took months but things we didn’t understand at first have became more clear. 

The vaccines brought even more questions. In our home, we were vaccinated at the first opportunity possible. It has been a relief for our health and we feel like we are part of the solution. Many friends and family were hesitant early on and at the time that was acceptable. 

That is no longer the case. 

While we are still learning all this pandemic brings with it, we are far enough along now that the experts in the scientific field have spoken: The vaccine is incredibly safe, effective, and is the only way out of the pandemic. 

You no longer have to hold onto scientific misconceptions from early in the pandemic. We’ve reached the conclusion stage of the scientific method. It is safe. It is helpful. It is an “overnight success” that was decades in the making.

If you have questions about safety, breakthrough infections, immunity through infection, pregnancy/infertility and would like information from experts then start here.

If you are ready to receive a vaccine, find a location here.

Like my college class taught me long ago, the experts in their field have spoken and now it’s our ability to respond that is on trial. 

An expert I trust

While I feel comfortable writing all of the above, I am not an expert. I am educated and confident in my research of original sources, but not an expert. 

But I do know an expert. 

The Doctor by Sir Luke Fildes 1843-1927

He’s a close friend and talented physician. His mind is as sharp as his scalpel. He’s cared for me, my family, and so many others. I trust him. If he told me I needed immediate life saving surgery, I’d make my way to the table without asking a single question. 

I’ve struggled over the last year as I watch him balance knowledge with kindness. He’s been accurate in predicting every stage of the pandemic. He strongly recommends the vaccines.

I’ve watched as people bring to him “evidences” that contradict his expertise. He’s repeatedly explained that vaccine research and anti-vaccine “proof” is simply not two sides of the same coin. He’s been thorough in his advice even when it is ignored.

It turns out that he is an an expert in patients and patience.

I wouldn’t blame him if he was keeping a mental list of all the people who are ignoring him now. You know, Edmond Dantés his way through the list over time with hesitant medical advice. He’s a better man than that. He just keeps helping.

He was recently told to cancel all his scheduled surgeries (again) because the hospitals have no room. I know this affects his income and livelihood. I asked him about it. Can you guess what his first concern was?

“I feel bad for all the patients who scheduled their lives around surgery and recovery time and now are told it can’t happen.”

When my friend has to postpone surgeries, he tells his patients to “get vaccinated and tell all their friends and family to get vaccinated as well.” That’s the only way to get the surgery schedule available again. 

This makes it personal for the patients and those who care about them.

Let’s wrap this up

I worry about the longevity and stamina of these experts. I hope they can hold up

I admire the constraint when their decades of expertise is questioned by someone who spent days or weeks on YouTube and Facebook. It must be tiring. Medical experts and scientists are not robots. 

The hardest part of all is to know that we could be six weeks away from shutting the door on the pandemic. It’s as simple as widespread vaccination and yet we delay. I will never understand how we got to this point. 

But I do know the experts in their field have spoken. 

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August 2021 Stockpile

Here are random things to post that don’t deserve their own post:

Knuckle Bender

I recently learned about a tool called a “knuckle blender.” It’s a wrench that is specifically designed to cleanly bend the hinges on doors. I ordered one from Amazon last week and my sons and I fixed all our sagging doors. Tap out the pin, bend the hinges in our out, replace the pin. It’s an easy fix that you can appreciate every day as your doors open and close easier. 

Barebells Protein Bar

Most protein bars are just not good. Barebells is an exception. They are really good. They sell a couple of flavors at our local Trader Joe’s store, but the online store has more choices and ships fast from Southern California. The hazelnut nougat is my favorite. 

New Macaron Champion

I need to provide an update to my macaron post. There is a new macaron champion in town.

Sugar Bees Bakery sells a crème brûlée macaron and Candace calls it a top 5 dessert. The bakery keeps strange hours so be sure to check before driving over there. 

Related: Normal crème brûlée is one of my favorite desserts. I’ve purposefully never looked up the nutritional info for it. As far as I know, it’s healthy. 

Labor Day Countdown

Today marks 35 days until Labor Day 2021. It’s a time for families to gather and other fun activities. As my sister recently suggested, it’s also the exact number of days for the process of full vaccination. (One shot today, one shot in three weeks, two more weeks for full protection.)

Find a vaccine location today. Attend those family gatherings with confidence of health for yourself and your family members.

Airline Refunds

Airlines seem to be back to their old tricks already. The emails declaring “we are in this together” went out the window with the PPP repayment notes. So here is your friendly reminder that if your flight was cancelled, you are entitled to a full cash refund and not simply a credit toward a future flight.

It took a few weeks of back and forth, but we had a sizable refund finally given for a trip that didn’t materialize. Keep fighting the good fight.

Updates

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Stay Cool. Have a good Summer.

Stay Cool. Have a good Summer.

It’s not just a way to sign an elementary school yearbook. It’s a formula. If you stay cool, your Summer will be better.

It has been so hot in Las Vegas. Any chance to cool down is a treat. 

I purchased two things recently that have really helped. I thought I’d pass it along so you too can have a good Summer. 

Ooler Sleep System

The sleep system will cool down or heat up your bed on a schedule. It does this by pumping water through a mat that you lay on top of your mattress. It has been incredible. 

Sweating through a hot afternoon in your everyday activities is just a little more bearable when you know you’ll be climbing into a 65 degree fridge bed. (It’s also helpful for the Winter because it can pre-heat a bed when you climb in, cool things down through the night so you sleep deep, and then warm you back up again just before you wake up.)

Here are some answers to the things we wondered about before buying:

  • You can feel the small tubes through the sheet, but not as much as you’d think. The weight of the body seems to push them down enough that you don’t feel them. It’s only in your hands that you might feel it. 
  • Yes, you can purchase a mat that has controls for each side. 
  • You can try the system for a month and still send it back for a full refund. 
  • When the unit is running under your bed, it’s like a very soft white noise machine. (Our whole house sleeps with white noise machines anyway so we don’t hear a difference.)
  • All schedules and settings are done via bluetooth through an app.

It pairs wonderfully for those of us who pump the air conditioning all night. When you have a cool room, you need to be out from under the blanket to enjoy it. With this, you can have the cool room, but you can still keep the heavy blankets on so you don’t roll around too much. 

After years of rolling around for comfort and temperature control, it has been very strange to wake up in the same position in which I fall asleep. 

But above all else, it’s knowing that despite the sun and sweat filled days, the bed is pre-cooled and waiting at the end of the day.

You can buy a unit on Amazon. (There is currently a 25% off coupon available.)

If you purchase direct from the manufacturer, there are more sizes and you can choose to purchase separate controllers for each side of the bed.

We went with a “Ooler Sleep System with Chilipad Cool Mesh” and added the “we” option so each side would be separately controlled. Here is a link that will give you a 25% discount from their site.

Slideback: Self Closing Sliding Glass Door

A few years ago, I purchased a sliding door add-on that will close the door automatically. It has worked very well and is very convenient. 

No more yelling “close the door” long after your kids have run into the backyard. (And then eventually getting up to close it yourself. 

It keeps the bugs from coming in, but most importantly it keeps the cool air from leaving your house. 

It’s also really helpful when you’re going outside with full hands. Just walk through the door and it closes behind you. 

For the cool winter days, it’s easy to unhook the latch so you can keep your door open for fresh air. 

The heavy duty version worked for our doors. They also sell a “Heavy Duty Plus” version. 

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Morning in the Desert

It is 6AM and pushing one hundred degrees. Relief is found occasionally as the sun plays behind the checkerboard of a sky. I return home by 7:30 and find the kids already in the swimming pool. Thus is life in Las Vegas.

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Friends, Faith, and Unfairness

A friend of mine recently had some devastating news delivered to his family. I was relieved that he opened up to me and we were able to talk about it. I’ve been so amazed by his resolve. Despite some hard years recently, he remains positive, uplifting and full of faith. 

He asked for some things to read as he makes sense of life with a smile. 

Among the first recommendations that I sent was a talk recently given by Dale G Renlund, an Apostle of Jesus Christ.  It is called “Infuriating Unfairness.” My friend was familiar with it but we were happy to talk it over again, together. 

When this message was delivered, it spoke directly to my yearning soul. I am an optimistic and positive person but I have returned to these declarations a number of times. I am so happy that I have these words of truth that I can apply to areas of my life and help others apply it in their own situations. 

Elder Renlund walked through all the most critical scenarios. He spoke of unfairness that we bring upon ourselves and also unfairness that cannot be explained. It’s critical to differentiate the two. 

I recommend the whole talk if you feel it would help you. If I had to sum it up in three simple points, I would offer the following:

Thus is life

Unfairness is part of mortal life on earth. We all are here with different physical bodies, different living situations, different natural gifts, etc. Life has a way of setting some up for smooth success and setting others up for a challenge. 

We should help others

Whether in our own life or in the lives of others, how we deal with unfairness is part of our learning. We should do our best to grow our faith when life feels unfair. When possible, we should take action to alleviate unfairness where we find it in the lives of others. It’s a form of bringing “to pass much righteousness.” It’s even good for your health!

The Savior understands and helps

The Savior suffered all unfairness as part of His atonement of sin and sorrow. Whatever degree of unfairness exists in our lives, Jesus Chris is aware and active in healing the broken hearts. If endured well, it can improve our discipleship now and our destination in the future. 

I am happy that my friend opened up to me. Many people don’t share their pains with others. 

My grandpa says that “if everyone sat in a circle and put their struggles in a brown paper bag, one by one they would be read and we would all be happy to have our own struggles back.”

It’s safe to assume that everyone is pushing through something. Until we know how we can help directly, the best approach is patience, kindness, understanding, and love.

But also we can ask, “Where does your life feel unfair? How can I help?”

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You need more James Taylor in your life

James Taylor has hundreds of songs. So many of them are unknown. That’s unfortunate. After decades of dedicated fandom and dozens of live concerts, I want to help by sharing some of my favorite James Taylor songs.

Most people are familiar with the Greatest Hits album. It’s a masterpiece of music with eleven quintessential JT tunes and the lovable black sheep of the white album, Steamroller.

I will assume that some minimum requirement of art appreciation is already in place. So with the hope sharing of new discoveries, I’ll leave these greatest hits off of my list.

While most of my list is in no particular order, let’s get right to the song that rules them all.

You Can Close Your Eyes: my favorite James Taylor song for thirty years. Perfect example of his guitar style. Perfect range of singing. He ends every concert with this song.

And now for the rest of the songs

Each of these songs will have an Apple Music link. I also have these songs (and more) in my shared Simple James Taylor playlist.

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Three Thousand Miles to Nowhere

A few months into the 2020 pandemic, our family purchased a treadmill. I think it happened when I realized that “food storage” does not count if it is already on my body. Our whole family finds time to use it. Candace is especially good at focusing on health and that encourages all of us.

While walking on the treadmill we’ll take time to think, watch, and work. We have enjoyed this simple way to get some exercise.

It’s now been ten months and I saw this graphic today which shows the lifetime stats of our treadmill:

I don’t know what a “fit score” is but I do understand miles. A total distance of 2,903 miles walked. I realized that as a family we’ve walked from North Maine to San Diego, CA.

It’s amazing what you can do when you take things one step at a time.

What now? We’re going to Gump this treadmill. We figured “since (we’ve) gone this far, (we) might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”

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Still learning from Grandma

Today is Mother’s Day. Tomorrow is my Grandma Stucki’s birthday. She passed away last year. I miss her. I think about her all the time.

Grandma had skilled hands. She planted flowers, baked goodies, and crafted porcelain dolls.

Some time ago, she combined her talent and her faith for some art projects. One of the pieces she made was this bust of Jesus Christ.

I’m so honored to have it now. I keep it on my desk at church. I reference it often.  

In my role at church, I sit with struggling friends and happy friends. I meet with couples beginning their lives together and widows who miss their mate. 

Some friends are seeking answers. Still others are relishing in personal revelation and just want to share it with someone who will appreciate it. Listening is my favorite part.

Most often, I sit with good people who are doing their best and living well. My only task is to encourage them to continue doing it. 

How many times have good individuals done the right thing only to break, or wear away, under the subsequent stress, canceling out much of the value of what they have already so painstakingly done?

Sometimes that which we are doing is correct enough but simply needs to be persisted in—patiently—not for a minute or a moment but sometimes for years.

Patience by Neal A Maxwell

Just fourteen years ago, Grandma was forming this reminder of the Savior. 

Now she is with Him. I know that. 

Stay persistent. Stay believing. Time is always on the side of truth.

And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life

Doctrine and Covenants 101:38

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How to send RSS to Twitter

The best way to get your news online is by using RSS feeds. It allows you to keep up with your favorite sites. 

The best app to use is NetNewsWire on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. It’s simple, quick, and free. 

However, I only open up NetNewsWire once or twice a day. I keep such a curated and intentional list of sites that the articles are pretty limited in number. It doesn’t require constant checking during the day. 

There are a few news sites that I want to keep up with throughout the day so they don’t work so well in my dedicated RSS app. Instead, I thought I would use Twitter to watch for new posts. 

The issue I ran into was that following these sites on Twitter is so busy that new articles they post get lost in the noise. Official twitter accounts for sites like Axios and The Las Vegas Review-Journal are overwhelming. With the occasional new article, the feeds also have promotional tweets from their other projects, retweets of employees and reporters, the same article linked a dozen times, and so many other things mixed in. 

I had to find a middle ground between an RSS app and a fully open twitter feed. I found what I wanted by sending their RSS feed to twitter specifically for me and it’s worked out very well. Here’s how I did it. 

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What of all the videos?

Everywhere you look, people are snapping photos and recording videos. Our phones are full of these memories and yet digital dust collects on the majority of them.

Every year, new phones are released and online storage is increased so these mounds of personal media can be stored somewhere. Who is going to watch all these videos and how will it be done?

At the end of each year, I gather all of the videos that were taken in our family. All of these videos are then added to iMovie and I start a new project. This year it was “Stucki 2020.” It was quite the year to relive.

The goal is to take all the best video clips and make a single movie to represent the highlights of the year

Some tips on creating the video: