The Alex and Ronni Show 7 April 2020

Questions. Time Goes By Gets Questions

TGB reader Kath left this comment about reader stories:

”All the readers' stories you feature are of such a high quality and so lovely - could a selection of them be made into a book as a charity fundraiser?”

This is a good idea but my answer hasn't changed since, in years past, readers often asked about collecting some of my blog posts into something like a best of TGB book:

I'm old. I have two life-threatening diseases due to which I barely keep day-to-day life together. I have about six or seven productive hours a day during which I must do everything – EVERYTHING – I once did during a full 16-hour day including a job.

Not to mention the copyright issues. Readers retain the copyright to their stories and it would be a lot of time-consuming work to get clearances.

So this isn't going to happen. My only suggestion is that you could save stories you like to your computer or print them.

Longtime TGB reader Nana Royer had this suggestion on Wednesday's post:

”What about a zoom meeting for Ronni's fans? The idea occurred to me when watching Millie Garfield's show. I've been using zoom for my book club, Great Decisions meetings, committee meetings, cocktail hour, and it works great.

“I have a paid account, which many of you may have, which allows more than 40 [minutes] viewing, and up to 100 guests. If we go without a password requirement, then it would be easy to sign in as the info could be posted here...It might be fun to meet and greet all of you who comment and follow Ronni.”

I think it could be fun too but my answer is the same as for the first question: I don't have time to manage this and probably not time to attend.

And there is one other crucial thing about Zoom: the program apparently has and still can install malware on users' computers. You can read about it here and here and many other places around the web.

The company says it is fixing the problems but three months has been mentioned as a time frame. I used it once this week, but when I'm done writing this blog post, I will delete it. Some say the Zoom warning is overblown but with all else that is going on, I don't see the point of taking chances.

There is a story at Medium debunking the Zoom naysayers but even it has a 12-point list of instructions how how to make a Zoom meeting secure.

If anyone wants to create a Zoom meeting for TGB readers, let me know when and how and I will publish an announcement on Saturday's Interesting Stuff post.

A reader in Italy along with a few other readers who, like me, live with COPD asked about what exercises I do. I developed my daily workout from the exercises I learned from the registered nurses at pulmonary rehab. I won't give you specifics because I'm not an RN and I have no idea how such exercises might be different for people with COPD or asthma or other lung problems that may also be combined with other health issues.

Generally, however, it goes like this: I'm careful to do warm-up and cool-down stretches – standing and on the floor – at the beginning of my 40-minute workout and at the end. In between there is a combination of all four types of exercise: aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.

Some of my routine is adapted from the workout I did daily for many years before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 but I'm not capable of working at it as hard or as long as I did back then. That does not mean, however, there is no value to my health in what I do now.

As I did during the three months of pulmonary rehab, I use oxygen during my exercise routine. The nurses explained that being able to breath more easily during exertion gives me a more productive workout than without oxygen when I would need to stop frequently to catch my breath.

Speaking of breath, using “pursed-lip breathing” at the end of each series of exercises and throughout the day has helped my breathing a lot. Here is a video I found on how to do it:

Diaphragmatic breathing is also useful. There are instructions from WebMD.

Including three months in rehab where I learned these techniques, I've been working out five days a week for more than five months. I dislike it as much as I ever did and many mornings my lesser self tries to talk me out of doing it.

But somehow I get myself in gear for it because - here's the kicker: No matter how much I want to not do it, about halfway through the routine I already feel much better.

It works psychologically too: if I've wakened in a bad mood (not hard in these virus days), exercise changes that. I even start smiling a bit. So I doggedly get it done each day and it makes a big difference in my ease of breathing.

If you have lung disease and/or have not been exercising regularly, I recommend it but please, don't start without talking with your physician or pulmonologist.

Okay, now I am turning the tables on you to ask a question instead of answering them.

Among all the lovely birthday greetings I received this week was a snailmail card that included – wait for it – a face mask. Is there anything more precious these days? I have an order in for a batch of them from China but it will be a few weeks until they arrive. So this is amazing; I almost cried.

Here is the problem. I don't know who sent it; the charming card has no signature. There is no return address except “Knoxville, TN”. So 'fess up, my Tennessee benefactor and let me thank you by name.


Good morning Ronni et al,

I hope others of you are enjoying the same glorious sun that's shining brightly in the sky here this morning. It's cold, but each day of sun almost makes me forget the many literally and figuratively gloomy days that have dominated the weather here for what feels like eons.

I want to say something now that I hope is taken in the spirit it is offered. Ronni, it broke my heart a bit to read of your excitement aroused by receiving a face mask in a birthday card this week. I cannot imagine why someone who is in several categories of high risk would not have been given a mask early on during this pandemic. To be waiting on an order you placed to arrive from China in several weeks is not acceptable. I think things like this warrant a great deal of investigation and explanation. If someone who's 79, with pancreatic cancer, COPD, lung damage and still under treatment can't get a freakin face mask at a time like this what has the world come to and what can we help do about it??

Now, I gotta pile on, Ronni.............wash the mask in hot water and soap before using, okay? Just to be sure. Now, you're reading this from someone who's gone from being a slob to a germaphobe, just so you know. The breathing exercise is good, us old people should be either doing breathing exercises or getting a bit out of breath through exercise each day.

Ronni there are churches using zoom who were hacked with horrible porn. I know nothing else as I have no capabilities for zoom.

I also have no mask and tying a t shirt horizontally isn't going to work for me and my scarves are to bulky. But I only go out to drive through the prescription pick up lane and they are all wearing masks and gloves.

Not only should we breathe from the diaphragm, but speaking diaphragmaticlly wouldn't hurt either. As a person who speaks to groups on a regular basis, I have learned to do this and found it has many benefits.
Most of us, without realizing it, speak through our noses giving our voices a higher pitched sound. Not only is that hard to listen to, but is tough on the throat. By have the sound come from your diaphragm you not only sound better and have more volume, but you will find you don't "run out" of breath as easily.

I'm in my 5th week of confinement (lockdown). It has not been difficult because I usually spend my days at home. I love to be here! But right now I would rather be in AbuDhabi with a son and grandchildren, where the weather is marvelous and the sea shimmering emerald and delightfully warm
Unfortunately, I'll just have to dream on: no air traffic and they have lockdown in the Emirates too!! Oh well, some day.
For the moment, I have something to look forward to.
Stay well Ronni and all of you TGB readers. Be safe .

Thanks for answering anyway. And stay safe...

Good to know about the dangers of using Zoom. I was thinking about setting it up but now I won't.

Someone made a mask for me but when I washed it it got all slimy. She'd used some kind of interfacing for a filler and all the starch in it came out. Had to wash it several times to get it to a state where I can use it. And it's SO cute!

The person who sent me the mask has emailed to let me know. I can't recall when a gift was more welcome. My benefactor asked not to be identified in public and so it is. But that doesn't mean I am not deeply grateful.

So happy you received a cloth mask from a thoughtful reader. They are impossible to buy anywhere anymore and required here in Calif. for everyone.

A neighbor and I have been making cloth masks (dozens of instruction videos on YouTube) for the last 3 weeks and distributing them to other neighbors in our 55+ community. She has been sewing for years so she had plenty of scraps and we use old Tee shirts that we cut into strips for the ties. To avoid social contact I put the masks in a baggie with a little note and tape the baggie to their front door. The recipients have been so appreciative and it makes us feel that we are useful.

It also helps ward off depression, especially since it has been raining cats and dogs in California. We needed the rain, but this is ridiculous!!

ZOOM isn't the only multiple-screen meeting software. Google has Google DUO, Facetime can have more than 2 or 3 people, and of course there is Skype which can be configured for multiple attendees. Of course, one can't have "up to 100 guests", but who in the heck needs to talk to 100 people at once!

And just a note on masks; most of them only help to protect others from you, just in case you’re the infected one. The only one that offers personal protection is the N95 which should be reserved for health professionals and high risk people like you, Ronni. The more we stay home the shorter we’ll need to live like this.

"I have an order in for a batch of them from China but it will be a few weeks until they arrive."

Ronni, Where can an order for masks be placed?

One of my carpenters has a wife that is pregnant, has a sewing machine, and lots of time
because her hairdressing shop is a "non-essential" business here. Kalamazoo County Government has, on line, the patterns and instructions for making your own (or others') masks for Covid-19. I gave her a printed copy of their pattern and instructions. She's busy now and the product could be sold or given away. Wash. State

One other comment. I also receive many great suggestions for my time. The key word here is "my". B

You are correct about zoom. The biggest security breach is publicizing an invitation en masse. If you email an invitation to each member of a group and require a passcode to get in (which is in the invitation), your chances of getting malware or being trolled are substantially lower. I have used it twice with no issues. But that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof! It’s worth it to me to be able to socialize with my friends, especially my book group. My spirit is buoyed for days after.

Best to all of you during this holiday weekend. I hope you somehow see flowers, feel the sun on your face, and eat a tasty treat. Be good to yourselves,

FWIW some people find placing a book below rib cage to view the rising and falling with each breath during breathing from the diaphragm as a way of monitoring they’re breathing properly rather than shallowly with chest going up and down. Also important to begin easily so don’t hyperventilate, so just stop if feeling light-headed.

I, too, am surprised you would not have been provided with a mask as a patient given the situation, but I guess with this shortage no one is guaranteed anything.

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