See above what is said about cloth masks. Nonetheless, I have cracked my head to get the most out of reusable cloth masks because surgical masks are needed by frontline medical professionals. I am also unsure of the quality of some of the surgical masks being touted online. I would rather have a cloth mask whose performance I know, than a surgical mask of indeterminate quality. This is because, if I know the performance of a mask, I know how to take precautions. A substandard surgical mask gives false security and puts people in real danger, because they fail to take other precautions.
Research On Mask Permeability
The research above, documented HERE, shows that a mask made of tea cloth screens out 67 out of 100 viral particles, from outside in. This means that if there are 100 viral particles outside your mask, you would only breathe in 33. A surgical mask would let in 25 out of 100 viral particles. An N95 mask would let in only 1.
However, if you are sick, and you cough, the tea cloth mask will let through 90 out of 100 particles produced by you. If you are wearing a surgical mask and you cough, you would let loose into the air, 50 out of 100 viral particles produced by you. If you were wearing an N95 mask, you would pollute the air with 30 of 100 of the viral particles produced by you.
Note To Self:
The next time I see a sick person coughing into a N95 mask, I would still stay away. I would also not assume that I am safe to NOT wear a mask.
In view of the results documented in the chart above, I have assigned different types of masks for different situations.
3 Layer Cloth Masks With Insert
I use these masks when I go out to a hawker centre or market with NO aircon. I am counting on the high humidity and high temperatures to reduce the viral loads in the air. For greater comfort and added protection, I have an insert of wet wipes, washed, soaked in salt solution and then dried. See HERE for how salt protects against the viral particles. These inserts are changed out every 2 hrs, and thrown away.
I do also wash the inserts and reuse, if my family members bring them home.
I know that these masks offer the least protection, and that they SPREAD disease if not washed OFTEN. So, I don't have a sense of false security. I use them carefully.
These cloth masks allow me to insert a high quality medical grade surgical mask. The cloth pocket prolongs the life of the surgical mask. This means that I end up using as few surgical masks as possible. I use these masks in air-conditioned environments with low humidity, where the Covid19 virus floats better and stays active longer.
For added protection, I can also insert a wet wipe, washed and soaked in a salt solution, then dried. The point is to make 1 surgical mask last as long as possible so that there are more left over for frontline medical personnel.
I know that this mask combo offers better protection than the cloth ones, but not 100%. So again, I do not have a sense of false security. I wash these often and heat sterilise religiously. I also ensure I stay away from airconditioned places as much as possible.
I have kept these in reserve for times when we need to go to the doctor's clinic or to the hospital. I have them, but pray that I will never need to use them.
Supply chains are being disrupted worldwide. Going forwards, it won't be easy to get good quality masks even if one is willing to pay. I have only a limited quantity of good surgical masks, and N95 masks. I don't want to use them indiscriminately and run out before this ends.
Even though this is an N95 mask, I know that there is no such thing as 100% protection. So, again, I do not have a false sense of security.
Stay home is best... as this cute song advises HERE.
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Upper respiratory tract infections (coughs, colds and flus) are really no fun. Some of my friends bring their children to the doctor once every 2 months. Sometimes, it requires more than 1 visit to resolve the infection. When I did my calculations...
- 2 children
- 6 times a year
- $75 per visit
= at least $900 a year.
I haven't even added in my own sleepless nights, spent sponging my babies to bring down fever and holding them whilst they cried and fussed. Invariably, I would catch the infections from them. Whenever a child went into kindergarten, the whole family went through anew, the baptism of infections. Many of these infections were mild for the children but extremely painful for me. If The Husband caught the infection from me, I was treated to more days of torture because The Husband is a nightmare patient.
There had to be ways to stop an infection in its tracks or prevent it altogether. I developed all sorts of home remedies which worked quite well because our family can get by on seeing a doctor every 2 to 3 years only... and that is only when I get careless with my alternative precautions.
Beating the Covid19
In view of the current Covid19 virus spread, it appears that the best way is to strengthen the body's immunity against pathogens. The first 4 days of the Covid19 infection is generally mild, characterised by a dry cough. If, I can beat the virus within the first 4 days, then pneumonia is unlikely to set in.
Indeed, if I can beat the virus DURING the incubation period, before the onset of symptoms, that is even better!
1st Line of Defence: Part 1
My first line of defence is astragalus. In Cantonese, this herb is called "puk kay." I make an astragalus soup once a week for the whole family. This herb increases levels of lymphocytes in the blood stream. Lymphocytes are your body's soldiers. The more of these in your system, the better your immunity.
Pathogens operate by means of something called quorum sensing. This means that they stay benign until they achieve a certain quorum in numbers. This means that they wait till they have reproduced in enough numbers before they launch an attack on your body. Until they achieve those numbers, pathogens stay inoffensive.
It makes sense to have enough soldiers to kill pathogens even before their numbers grow large enough for them to sense a quorum.
1st Line of Defence: Part 2
- Our whole family now does intermittent fasting regularly. We skip breakfast in the mornings on most days. Click HERE to see how intermittent fasting also strengthens your body's soldiers against infections.
- Our whole family is now doing a low sugar diet. Except for The Son, the rest of us drink our milk tea sans sugar. Click HERE to see how sugar suppresses your immune system.
- Sleep before 10 pm. See video below for how sleep between 10 pm to midnight boosts immunity.
2nd Line of Defence: Propolis or Goldenseal Nasal Spray
When we travel to Europe, I make sure I stock up on propolis sprays and goldenseal tinctures. I previously blogged about goldenseal tincture HERE. Whenever I encounter a snotty student or a friend with flu/cough/cold, I will go home and spray either propolis or goldenseal up my nostrils. This kills the virus right inside the nose, even before it has a chance to reproduce. Make sure you get good quality stuff. The stuff you can get online may not be of good quality. We buy our stocks from brick and mortar European pharmacies OR reputable homeopathic shops like HERE.
3rd Line of Defence: Echinacea Tea
By following my 1st and 2nd lines of defence above, we can stay pretty much healthy even when others around us, are snotty. However, once in a while, I do feel a flu coming in. If I can catch it at a very early stage, I can usually throw it off within 24 hrs if I am fast enough to take echinacea tea.
Echinacea flowers, roots and leaves are potent against viruses. Echinacea works by activating lymphocytes EARLY. Echinacea mobilises the lymphocytes at an early stage of the infection, where viral numbers are low enough for the body to easily overcome. Echinacea ONLY works if you have high enough numbers of lymphocytes. Therefore, the 1st line of defence detailed above (i.e., drinking astragalus soup every week) is ULTRA important. Else, taking echinacea does not help.
I grow my own echinacea and have sold the surplus to parents occasionally when their children reach PSLE. Parents who buy, say it works and buy again. My home grown stocks are low so I am not selling the flowers anymore. Please see this link - HERE. You can buy the herb online. Do NOT buy from GNC. Their capsules are ineffective.
Buy the actual dried plant parts and make tea. Keep it in a thermos and sip every 15 mins. Echinacea is cleared out of the body by the kidneys super fast so you have to sip throughout the day. If I take echinacea EARLY enough and REST before I feel very ill, I can throw off a flu within 24 hrs.
New Line of Defence: Cloth Mask
I guess the one silver lining in the cloud of the Covid19 is that we have been able to easily and cheaply buy cloth masks. Cloth masks filter 0% of viruses BUT they do impede the large snot droplets when someone sneezes. If you are at prolonged close quarters with an infected individual, it is no protection against that type of prolonged viral load. However, if some idiot accidentally sneezes into your face, it does block that type of single sneeze viral load, just so long as you stop breathing and remove the mask to prevent breathing in the virus particles that will dry onto the cloth. My cloth masks are single use before wash. This means that I throw them into the wash the moment I get home and I put on a clean mask every time I go out, even if it means that I use 3 masks in one day.
If you are going to the doctor's clinic or the hospital then please wear the N95 or a surgical mask. For wearing into malls or the wet market, when a flu is going around, a cloth mask offers some level of protection from uncivilised people who spray their snot liberally into the air.
Even if their snot is not contagious, it is disgusting to breathe in someone else's snot, no?
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A Walking Miracle
Last weekend, one of my favourite hawkers told me that it was his 60th birthday. I froze because I had no idea what the appropriate response should be. Should I give him a gift? He went on to say that someone gave him a gift weighing half a kg. Then, my brain hung because I wondered what significance the weight of a gift had for a 60th birthday. He spoke in Chinese and that a half a kg thingy he mentioned sounded like "elephant." So, I wondered if I should give him an elephant figurine. I do have celadon elephants in my gift drawers (where I keep a stash of purchases that can be used as gifts in times when I need one urgently and have no time to shop). There was just too much to process. I had no idea how to respond.
So, I fled.
I did not even wish him Happy Birthday.
That, dear readers, is the reality of living inside my little autistic brain.
I wake up every morning conscious of the fact that I am a walking miracle. Anybody with half a brain can see that Dr. Pet is completely unqualified to teach EQ. Why? Because Dr. Pet is autistic. Yet, the reality is that, in the past 8 years, children have come through my tuition centre and gone away learning....
- how to resolve conflict
- how to influence
- how to lead
- how to be kind
- how to be considerate
- how to control emotions.
Fathers I have never met, ring on my doorbell and offer me warm words of thanks, saying, "My family life has changed because you have changed my wife."
It is said that God does not choose the qualified. Instead, God qualifies the chosen. I wake up every morning keenly aware that I am a poorly qualified walking miracle. I am the weakest, the least able and the most unlikely person to be teaching children how to lead, and parents how to love.
Years ago, I read 2 books by Bruce Wilkinson:
- The Prayer of Jabez
- Secrets of the Vine
Today, I was reminded of them because my life has taken a turn that I cannot explain unless I go back to the prayers that these 2 books taught me to pray.
The Prayer of Jabez
The actual Jabez Prayer has 4 parts:
- God, please bless me.
- God, please enlarge my territories.
- God, please keep me from evil.
- God, please prevent me from causing pain.
Somehow, from the Jabez Prayer, I retained 2 things only. For the past 20 years, since reading the book, I pray a small daily prayer, a few times a day.
(1) God, keep me from evil. Make me good. I want to be a good girl.
(2) God, bless me.
The Secrets of the Vine
The Secrets of the Vine taught me that my life must bear fruit. It also taught me that I cannot bear fruit unless I am a branch connected at all times to God, the vine.
The Secrets of the Vine spoke to me. I wanted my life to bear fruit. I did not want to be someone who lived and died, without bearing any fruit. At first, my desire was to bear 3 plumper than plump clusters of grapes: The Husband, The Son and The Daughter. My desire was that I would nourish these three with the high quality spiritual nourishment that I drew from God. Connected to God the Vine, I would be the branch to nourish into fruition THREE of the heaviest clusters of grapes that I personally knew.
That desire has come true. Meanwhile, I still continue to pray everyday...
(1) God, make me good. I want to be a good girl.
(2) God, bless me.
What I did not expect was that The Jabez Prayer, even when only half prayed, comes wholly true.
Enlarged Territories + More Fruit On the Vine
I did NOT pray to have my territories enlarged. Yet, God has placed Skinny Grape Children under my care who have slowly fattened up into juicy clusters of sweet grapes, some of them holding the promise of being heavier and more juicy than my own children.
One child came to me with a propensity for violence. He could not be trusted in team sports because he liked to talk with his fists. This one even kicked his School Principal. He has since become humble, loving and gentle. Pistachio loves him.
Another joined me, sour and dour. She fought with her parents at home. She disliked her friends in school. At home, she was sulky and uncooperative. She is now happy in school, cheerful and wise at home.
Yet another was passive-aggressive. He arrived at the centre guarded and rebellious. He has since matured into a leader his peers respect.
Yet another arrived saying, "How much are you paying Dr. Pet, Mama? You should withdraw me from her class you know because it is not worth the money. You are only funding her big house." His mother laughed when she told me this, amused that a boy of 9 could think up this reason to not come for Dr. Pet's classes. At home, he challenged his Mom, "I don't see the point of doing so much school HW." His attitude to school has now improved, and he is one of my most enthusiastic students.
Another child wanted to be bribed for attending my classes. Her relationship with her parents was so poor that she threatened to call the police on them. Don't get me wrong. The parents had done nothing to deserve the police at their door. I am simply trying to describe how toxic the emotional environment, in the home, was. This child has since become agreeable and cooperative. The last I heard, she is adamant to stay in my class.
So now, my territories have been enlarged because my influence is reaching into families. Parents love better and children are happier because of me (or more accurately, because of God in me). As a branch connected to God, the Vine, I am now bearing more than 3 clusters of grapes.
I must say that I am rather ambivalent about what is happening. I had thought that I had reached a sweet spot in my life where I could exercise a lot, work only a little and still be able to get by.
To my dismay, last week, I was so busy that I had no time to exercise. There are too many parents to coach. I know myself. I hate working hard. I love playing and lazing around. The thought came, "Why do this? Why bother? Life as you know it will change, now that The Collaboration Corner is in Upper Bukit Timah."
Then, something prompted me to dig out my old book, The Prayer of Jabez. I quote from there.
The Cycle of Blessings
As you repeat the steps, you will set in motion a cycle of blessing that will keep multiplying what God is able to do in and through you. This is the exponential growth. You have asked for and received more blessing, more territory, more power, and more protection. The growth curve soon starts to spike upwards. As the cycle repeats itself, you'll find that you are steadily moving into wider spheres of blessing and influence, spiraling ever outward and upward into the larger life for God.
The day will come - and come repeatedly during your life - that you will be overwhelmed with God's graciousness ... The cycle of blessings will give your life a good testing. Will you let God work in your life regardless of what He chooses? It will always be for your best. Will you surrender to His power and love and SURPRISING plan for you?
Note that I have underlined the word "surprising." I am surprised. I am also unsure. I am also a little scared. However, re-reading The Prayer of Jabez has given me strength and confidence. I will follow this path for as long as God signs me to follow. I will not stress. I will not worry.
All that I have done so far, was not really my credit anyway. It has always been God, and only He.
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Let us call her Faith.
Faith was in P3. She entered the class with eyes which darted every which way. Her eyes explored everything except the worksheet. When her friends were discussing, she moved behind the mini whiteboard, doodled, played with the duster.
I diagnosed "addiction to computer games."
Her parents took her off computer games completely. The child stayed resolutely dense. Once, in class, I reviewed with her how to spell a certain word. We reviewed it 10 times. Each time, she spelled it wrong immediately after. I made a mental note to myself. Something else was at play because no one can be that slow.
I diagnosed "buat bodoh syndrome." See HERE.
I gave her parents the normal solution to "buat bodoh syndrome." This only half-fixed the problem. Faith calibrated her slowness to learn. She never again was unbelievably slow to learn. Yet, she was not fast. Faith's parents pitied this poor child. They sincerely believed that Faith was so dumb that they needed to spend more time with her than with Faith's brother, Gideon.
I had a different view.
For months, I felt an undercurrent of a sharp intelligence. Faith's Mama was a very intelligent woman who had built up a small Mom and Pop business inherited from her parents into a regional presence. If IQ is inherited, how can Faith be so dumb? Further, I saw impressive flashes of Faith's intelligence when I set up controlled experiments in class to surface it. It was like glimpsing the fox spirit's tail. When you see a tail peeking out even ONCE from under the dress of a fox spirit in human form, you know it is there. For some reason that I could not fathom, Faith went to great lengths to hide her impressive intelligence.
Even though I had spent months mapping the family dynamics, the root of Faith's issue escaped me until one day, when parent coaching Faith's mama, I heard Faith's mama say, "If she cannot make it academically, we will let her run our company."
Remember that my PhD in Business, is in Human Motivation? I saw the root of Faith's issue immediately, then! The incentive system was completely inappropriate! I said, "Mama, you are incentivising incompetence. You spend more time with the incompetent one and you promise her the inheritance if she is incompetent. You need to do the exact opposite!"
So, Faith's mama had a talk with her 2 children - Faith and Gideon. This was what she said, "The company is my 3rd child. I need this 3rd child to ensure my old age. I will only dare to entrust this child to the person who can show me that he/she is able to take it and grow it. If neither of you succeed academically, it shows me that you are not intelligent enough to help my company prosper. I will sell the company and use the money for my retirement. That is better than giving it to you and having you run it into the ground."
For Faith, it was like turning on a switch. Overnight, her intelligence became plain for all to see. Faith's intelligence far surpassed even my expectations. She was so good at pretending to be stupid that she fooled even me! Now, I know that it takes a very intelligent person to act stupid convincingly. Faith was very convincing. Someone who could not spell a word 10 times immediately after reviewing it, has just passed up a moving and vivid composition with NO spelling mistake.
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