Sunday, February 24, 2013

I got flu

The 2nd week of February was a very busy week in the office.

I was so busy I did not pay too much attention to a colleague in the office who had a flu symptom on Tuesday, he was coughing and had  fever. I stood close to him during one conversation, and that night I felt a bit under weather - I breathed in some vinegar vapor from boiled vinegar after dinner and went to bed early. I felt fine the next morning - thinking that I avoided another flu infection.

Wednesday was a really tiring day: meetings, talking to many peoples the whole afternoon at a technology day exhibit,  and not sanitizing hands as frequently as usual. I felt really tired at the end of the day.  After dinner I felt body ache, and then I felt cold - I had 100+F fever!  I succumbed to flu for the first time in eight years.

The last time I had flu was 8 years ago. That time, Justin got flu from school. The boys played together  the big brother transmitted the virus to the younger one. Then one day Nicholas did not finish his meal, Dad was requested to finish it for him, and next day Dad had flu! One by one each member of our family took turn to have flu. We finally decided to enforce a new rule - boil vinegar to produce vinegar vapor to kill virus when someone has flu symptom; use communal chopsticks at family meals to prevent transmission of virus among family members.

With these measures, transmission of virus between family members is essentially eliminated. The kids still get flu from school though. Additional things I do consistently, and recommend to my family members: 1)  be really diligent  in washing/sanitizing  hands, especially when come home from school/work; 2) do not get tired, or rest right away when feel tired; 3) take preventive measure when someone at home has a flu symptom, such as boiling some vinegar to produce vinegar vapor .

Those actually are things I do regularly, that was why I did not have flu for 8 years.

I am an advocate of  flu vaccination as well, and I diligently had flu shot at work every year until 2012. I told the nurse who administered flu shot last November that I had fever after flu shot two years in a row, she was a bit nervous and suggested that I do not take the shot, but washing hands and be vigilant around people with flu. I continue to practice my flu prevention measures. From November to early February I survived a flu outbreak in the office, and a prolonged flu by Nicholas. But I did not practice those measures the second week of February - I did not sanitizing my hands at work as frequently as I used to, I was tired, exhausted actually (!!) - and I succumbed to flu virus.

Flu is nasty and can be lethal; but it is preventable.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sleep Tight

Sleep tight, easy said than done for many people.

Young children, like Nicholas, are addicted to computer games. When it is time to sleep, they will say "I am not sleepy" - if they are playing games at the time, they might not feel sleepy at all due to the excitement of the games. It is relatively easy to make young kids to sleep tight: strictly enforce sleep time. When it is time to sleep, take away games, turn off nights. Occasionally even when all these are done, Nicholas may still not feel sleepy. This most likely means that he doesn't have enough physical activities during the day. For Nicholas, we make him to walk to school sometimes, or run inside the house or play table tennis after dinner, just ensure he has some physical activities.

Teenagers have more distractions, in addition to games, they also have online chatting, YouTube,  Facebook. It is hard to enforce sleep time when they are in high school. But many of them are sleep deprived due to late night online activities - which leads to missed class, sleep in class, and not mentally alert. One time, when Justin was home, he behaved like a zombie. I asked him to go to bed early, he told me he could not fall sleep. I took away all of his electronic gadgets including cellphone. He was upset, lied on the floor in his room. In five minutes he was sound asleep!!!! I can not take away his gadgets every night, eventually he will be on his own, he has to ensure he has enough sleep by himself. I have been trying to educate him, the importance of a good night sleep, the damage sleep deprivation can do to him in long term.....for every chance I have had to talk about it,but I am not very effective so far.

Sleeping well and having enough sleep is a priority for me. I made a new year's resolution for 2011 for ~ 8 hour sleep every night. Despite the priority and my determination, I still have insufficient sleep from time to time.

From time to time, I have to stay up late for work or family related matters. This is a big problem for me because no matter how late I go to bed, I will wake up early next morning. My solution is to make it up by taking naps in the afternoon next day, or take napes during weekend afternoons.

A bigger problem is that if I have things on my mind, I may not be able to fall back into sound sleep again if I wake up midnight or very early in the morning. This could be a serious problem. The key is to clear my mind. For example if I had technical challenge at work which bothered me, when I woke up very early in the morning (e.g. 4am), and my mind could not stopping thinking about it, and thus I could not fall asleep again. After struggles with this type of issue, I found out that if I wrote down what I was thinking, my mind could rest afterwards! This approach applies to non technical issues as well.

What can make us sleep tight?

Ample physical activities and mental activities during day time.

Go to bed right away when you feel sleepy. Dragging on a few more minutes can let the optimum sleeping time lapse and make it hard to fall asleep.

Don't eat right before you go to bed (This is good for weight control as well)

Stop external excitements (games, deliberation on difficult issues ...) 15 to 30 minutes before going to bed

Clear your mind if you can. Writing down what bothers you, what you can not stop thinking about can help to calm down you brain and clear you mind.

As for maintaining optimum weight,  I refrain from using medication for sleep related issue. This would be a different matter if one has medical problems.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Zilker Park at Austin

On the way home from San Marcos, we visited Austin. We visited Austin once before - toured the capitol and strolled in Lyndon Johnson Presidential library. This time we went where locals go - the Zilker park

Austin skyline viewed from the shore of Lady Bird Lake in Zilker Park

When got there, we were instantly attracted by runners and hikers on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Parked our car at the end of the road, under a bridge, we joined in the action, Lily and Justin raced across the lake via a pedestrian bridge. Nicholas and I followed them.

In the lake rowers were rowing, many duck like water fowls swam around, and quite a few grand egrets dotted the shore lines on both side of the bridge. Austin downtown skyline was in sight as well.There is Texas Rowing center on the north side, and a kayak/canoe dock on the south side. It was cold that morning, the kids had no interests to kayak. 

Kayak dock 
We turned around, Lily and Justin raced again. Instead of checking other attractions in the park, we stayed on the trail, joined the crowd on the south side of the lake, jogged toward east. There was a continuous stream of runners and joggers, dotted by tourists like us, validating the claim that the trail is the most used trail in Austin.

About 3/4 of a mile, we reached Lou Neff Point, where one can have good view of downtown skyline. At Lou Neff Point, the trail takes a sharp turn into a cove, numerous water fowls there. Then we saw two big swans in the crowd of black water fowls. 

A few hundred yards along the cove, we saw a solo swan. As I kept taking pictures of the swan as it changed its postures, locals ran by without stopping to appreciate its beauty. Apparently the swans are regulars there as well.

There were also a few grand egrets along the shore of the cove, as always, they are solo. One in the water, another on the other side of the cove, on a tree.

We intended to walk along the whole loop of the trail, but not knowing where the turning point is to cross to the other side of the lake, and Nicholas was tired, we turned back after about 1.25 miles.

As we were near the Lou Neff Point, a big bird on a log expanded its wings, looking side to side, for about a minute or so. I observed it all this time to see what it's going to do - it retracted its wings, stayed on the log, doing nothing special.

This winter holiday we stayed in town most of the time. This short two day trip to south, at San Marcos and Austin alleviate my crave to outdoors, and I was pleasantly surprised by both locations we visited.