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Maintaining Balance in Life During the Pandemic Lessons Learned From ‘Groundhog Day’
On Feb. 2, Americans from across the country will be tuning in to their local news station to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow or not. While there might not be too much science involved with Groundhog Day, people have been interested in the groundhog’s predictions for over a century. The celebration gained even more attention in 1993 with the release of the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. For those unfamiliar with the movie, it tells the story of a television weatherman, played by Murray, who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the Groundhog Day celebrations. Murray’s character, Phil, ends up in a time loop in which he is forced to live the events of that Groundhog Day over and over again. Phil quickly learns that he can do whatever he wants and gets involved in all types of hijinks. But over the course of the movie, Phil grows to be a more compassionate and open-minded person, and he starts learning new skills, helping people who he knows will be hurt throughout the day. I won’t spoil the ending, but many consider the movie one of the best of the 1990s, and I urge everyone to see it at least once. While we will probably never experience what Bill Murray faced in “Groundhog Day,” in a way, it feels like we have been living the same few days over and over again throughout the pandemic. Many of us thought it was just going to be a blip. We thought it would last a few weeks, but now, here we are almost two years later still dealing with many of the same issues. Like the movie, it seems to be the same thing over and over and over … Like most people, we have had to learn how to exist in the pandemic. We can’t just stay in our homes for all hours of the day until things return to normal. But, like Phil in the movie, we have to evolve how we live during the same monotonous times. “We’ve tried to create to a good balance, especially since a couple of us are high-risk asthma sufferers.”
For our family, we’ve tried to create a good balance, especially since a couple of us are high-risk asthma sufferers. While we were pretty isolated at the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve ventured out more lately. But we try to reduce risks to ourselves and others while we do it. We still wear masks when indoors in groups for any significant amount of time, and we still prefer to eat outside at restaurants when we can. We have traveled more than most in the pandemic. We traveled to Mexico for a family wedding. We’ve visited Los Angeles multiple times to visit my daughter while she attends school. We have been to Hawaii, where my son has started school, and we’ll be back again soon when he has his first collegiate baseball games. My daughter even did a five-week internship in Dublin, Ireland, during the pandemic. But when we fly, we’re diligent about wearing N95 masks, and we try to not eat on airplanes when others around us are eating and unmasked as well. One of the best perspectives you can have when it feels like you’re doing the same thing every day is to embrace change and to become a better person when facing challenges. In “Groundhog Day,” Murray’s character went from doing things that he wanted to do in the time loop to helping the people of Punxsutawney. During the pandemic, we have upgraded our safety and health practices to try to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. We’ve proven many times over that we can overcome any obstacle thrown our way. Sometimes, you just have to find the right path that will work for you and your family.
-C. Brooks Schuelke
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Brock vs. Brock
The Man Who Sued Himself
On July 1, 1993, Robert Lee Brock made a mistake. By his own account, he had a few too many alcoholic beverages that evening, and in his drunken state, he committed breaking and entering, as well as grand larceny. Brock was arrested, and the court sentenced him to 23 years behind bars at the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Virginia. In 1995, Brock decided he deserved restitution. Reasoning that he had violated his own civil rights, he sued himself for $5 million. For his family’s pain and suffering, as well as his children’s college tuition, he requested $3 million. He also asked for $2 million to support his needs during his 23-year prison sentence. Central to Brock’s claim was that, due to his drinking, “I caused myself to violate my religious beliefs. This was done by my going out and getting arrested, which caused me to be in prison.” And since he was a ward of the state, he explained that Virginia should pay the $5 million on his behalf. After all, he was incarcerated and unable to work, and the state was responsible for his care. Plus, he promised to pay the money back after his release.
In a move that shocked no one (except, perhaps, Brock), Judge Rebecca Beach Smith dismissed his case. While she did call his claim “ludicrous,” she also praised his creativity, stating that he “presented an innovative approach to civil rights litigation.” Perhaps the lawsuit against himself wasn’t his first or last attempt at legal restitution. He once filed 29 complaints in a single year. Due to the repeated suits, the court removed his ability to file further litigation. “None of Brock’s allegations have ever been found by any court to have any merit,” the decision read. “Because Brock’s repeated, frivolous claims have placed a significant burden on this court, as well as on the district court ... we hereby impose sanctions upon Brock.” Brock’s case ranked No. 3 on Time Magazine’s list of Top 10 Outrageous Legal Battles. So, while he didn’t achieve wealth, he did gain fame. It was an impressive feat for a man who found a novel way to take personal responsibility for his actions.
More Than a Pinch of Salt 3 Ways to Reduce Your Sodium Intake
The average American adult eats 1,000 milligrams (mg) more than the recommended amount of sodium each day. Salt enhances flavor, is easy to add to food, and tastes pretty delicious. Unfortunately, too much of it is unhealthy and can cause high blood pressure or kidney damage. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor.
seasonings available to liven up your food. Experiment with new spices; the bolder the flavor, the less you’ll notice the reduced salt. Garlic is a popular choice, but check the nutrition information — salt is included in many spice blends.
Keep the shaker out of sight. If you want to reduce the amount of salt you use, try putting it away. Keeping
Read food labels. Processed foods tend to contain a lot of sodium, so it’s best to shop for fresh meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. In particular, avoid premade sauces whenever possible. If you need to buy prepared meals, always read the label and look for items with less than 6,000 mg of sodium — the highest amount a meal can contain and still be labeled “healthy” by the FDA. Check serving sizes as well; 400 mg of sodium in one meal sounds good until you realize there are 2–3 servings in the package.
salt on the table increases the temptation to sprinkle a little bit more on your meal. You can still get up and get the salt out of the
cupboard if it’s really needed, but you’ll have the opportunity to reflect on your actions and make a more conscious decision. It will also help kids, who may instinctively reach for the salt or copy their parents.
Cutting salt takes time, but the preference for salt is an acquired taste, and it can be unlearned. It may take several weeks or even a couple months to get used to the flavor of reduced salt, but those who successfully do often find salty foods they used to eat unpalatable. Once the extra sodium is gone from your diet, you probably won’t miss it — and your
Try other flavors. We have easy access to more types of salt than ever, but unfortunately, sea salt, Himalayan salt, and kosher salt don’t contain any less sodium than the table variety. Luckily, there are plenty of other
body will be a lot healthier for it.
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TAKE A BREAK
Roses, chocolate, and fancy restaurants are Valentine’s Day staples for a reason. They’re classic and timeless, but if you’ve done them year after year, they could also get a little bit boring. To wow your significant other this Feb. 14, think beyond the most famous ways to celebrate. They’ll probably appreciate a twist — and the time you spent making their day special. Get Creative This Valentine’s Day NOT ANOTHER CANDLELIT DINNER
Create a relationship scrapbook. Nothing says “I love you”
like a gift you’ve made with your own hands. By making a scrapbook of your favorite memories with your partner, you’ll also amaze them with your sensitivity and dedication. A scrapbook can consist of photographs, restaurant menus, movie tickets, wedding invitations,
This succulent chicken stuffed with cheese, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes is impressive on the plate but easy in the kitchen! MEDITERRANEAN STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST
vacation souvenirs, and some carefully chosen words about why you value the relationship. Don’t be afraid to get inventive with your decorations or scour the internet for tips and tricks. Go stargazing. What’s more romantic than staring up at the stars? Your first step will be to find a local spot that’s dark and secluded enough for a good view of the nighttime sky. Once you do, your next course of action will depend on the weather. If it’s temperate, get a picnic blanket and enjoy the outdoors. If it’s cold, stay in the car, turn off the headlights, and snuggle up. Don’t forget to bring wine and a romantic snack. If all goes well, you might end up watching the sunrise. Schedule a couples’ spa day. Forget what you think you know: Spa days are for everyone. Your other half will love the opportunity to experience a massage, sauna, and other assorted treatments. Plus, many spas offer romantic couples’ packages with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Once you’re both sufficiently relaxed and looking your best, you’ll likely feel closer than ever. Some spas also offer overnight stays so you can transition seamlessly into a romantic evening. All of these ideas will take a little bit of planning, so it’s time to start dreaming up your big surprise. When you see their reaction, your only concern will be how to top yourself next year.
• 2 chicken breasts • 2 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed • 2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped • 4 tsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
• 10 large basil leaves, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, chopped • 1/2 tsp curry powder • 1/2 tsp paprika • Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 365 F. 2. Cut a slit lengthwise to create a pocket in the middle of each chicken breast. Place the breasts on a baking sheet. 3. In a medium bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, basil, and garlic. 4. Divide the mixture in half and stuff each chicken breast pocket. Using toothpicks, seal the edges of the pockets. 5. Season the chicken with curry, paprika, salt, and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 F. 6. Remove the toothpicks and serve with rice, potatoes, salad, or roasted vegetables!
Inspired by DiabetesStrong.com
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I N S I DE THIS ISSUE
Maintaining Balance in Life During the Pandemic
The Man Who Sued Himself Reduce Your Sodium Intake With These 3 Tips
Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breast Creative Valentine’s Day Ideas
Clean Hydrogen Explained
Is Clean Hydrogen the Energy of the Future? What You Need to Know
The European Union has made substantial investments in clean hydrogen as a renewable energy source, hoping it can help reduce carbon emissions. With the infrastructure bill Congress passed in November, the U.S. is also looking to invest in new energy sources, including clean hydrogen. But what is clean hydrogen, and why has so much hope been placed on it? Hydrogen is already used today as an energy source, and while the hydrogen itself is clean, the process used to make it is not. The energy industry describes hydrogen using a color-coded system — hydrogen created with steam methane is gray, and hydrogen produced with fossil fuels is brown. Neither is considered clean energy.
hydrogen is produced with methane, but the carbon is captured instead of released into the environment. Detractors argue that blue hydrogen is not more environmentally friendly than other existing technologies and point to its high costs. Proponents, however, consider it a stepping stone to the cleanest form of hydrogen. Green hydrogen comes from electrolysis, a process that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen. For the hydrogen to be green, the electricity used to create it must come from renewable sources like wind, solar, or hydropower. The process almost completely eliminates emissions, and it’s the form of energy the EU is investing in the most. One day, it may even power cars. But clean hydrogen has its detractors. Some environmental activists argue that we need to move away from gas power
entirely and use less electricity overall. In the case of blue hydrogen, they also say that simply capturing the carbon is not enough to ward off climate change. Energy experts who otherwise support clean hydrogen also point out that it’s currently much more expensive than fossil fuel production. The U.S. has launched a plan to bring the cost of green hydrogen down significantly by 2030, but its use currently accounts for less than 1% of total annual hydrogen production worldwide. Before clean hydrogen can be a viable energy alternative, governments and industries need to deploy significant resources to develop infrastructure, expand production, and drive down costs. Whether clean hydrogen will be a major future energy source depends on how much the world is willing to invest in it.
Whether or not blue hydrogen is “clean” will depend on whom you ask. Blue
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