Traveling shows the beauty of our land and people

Morning light shines bright.

Brilliant light shines across the land and ideas can also be shared. Traveling has shown that many caring people share time and energy to build a healthy and strong nation. We do have needs for shelter and food as many are left with insecurity. Dedicated groups and volunteers are working hard to help.  Awareness of need may also be necessary before those in positions of power shift policies to be more supportive of those who are living without houses or apartments or with too little food.

For those who are houseless but who do have a car a simple solution for slightly more comfortable sleeping is a platform in the backseat.

My backseat made into a sleep platform, it is important to keep everything below the level of the backseat head rests for best visiability of the road behind you.

Three plastic tote boxes, slightly taller than regular size totes, but with one narrower than the regular size, fit neatly across my backseat. Topping the storage bins with an 1/2 inch thick exercise mat and a camping mat made a slightly more comfortable cushion but I also needed to add a pillow on top of the narrow tote as it was slightly shorter than the two full size totes. A comforter on top of the exercise mats added a little more comfort and a warm, cold weather rated, sleeping bag allowed me to stay warm at night without needing the car to be running.

The larger size totebox and the green camp mat which is firm and the blue exercise mat which is softer. the edge of a pillow is in pink on top of the smaller totebox.
All the layers of the platform need to be able to tuck in securely at the edge in order to close the door. The camp and exercise mats are longer than the backseat and are curled up slightly on each side. Cutting them to fit the car would be an option and the extra pieces could be taped to the lid of the shorter totebox if desired. However leaving the mats alone leaves them available for use in a tent or on someone’s spare room floor. Buying one extra of the firmer camping mats and cutting that to fit the tops of the totes, one layer smaller to fit within the handle area and one larger layer to cover the entire surface would likely improve the comfort, Duct tape in classic gray or fashion colors could secure the layers to the totebox.

The sleep platform is not as comfortable as a bed but it is more comfortable than trying to lay on the backseat or sit in the front seat with the seat leaning as far back as it can go. The platform makes the top of the backseat a pillow and is level enough with the top of the front seats to stretch legs out and over them. It is not a solution for someone who is tall or large however as some flexibility is needed and the area is still compact. I’m about 5 feet 6 inches tall as a reference.

For someone living houseless – working and living out of their car it might be a solution to consider trying as the tote bins and exercise and camping mats were fairly inexpensive, less than ten dollars for the totes and around $15 for each of the roll up foam mats. The cold weather sleeping bag was around $30 and I wore a hat for additional warmth as the temperature did drop below freezing.

Areas where rapid employment occurred had problems with inadequate housing being available for all of the new employees and other areas are simply very expensive even with a reasonable paying job. Others may have lost employment that covered the expense of housing but still own a car. Innovation sometimes means looking at things in a new way. When I was young my family traveled with a larger vehicle that had a platform in the back and being shorter as a child I could stretch out on it and sleep during long car trips – seat belt laws at the time of my earlier youth didn’t require riders in the back of the vehicle to wear a seat-belt, only front seat riders. The platform I built out of tote bins can be used for storage and sleep when the car is stopped. It would not be legal at this time to ride without a seat-belt.

The area created by the platform would be unlikely to be large enough for two people but for a solo driver it could also be handy in case of emergency stops or for a brief nap on long journeys when a hotel is the planned destination. Drowsiness can be a danger especially with the busy and fast pace of the traffic that occurs in many areas. Adequate sleep is also important to support health and the immune system.

A few tips for staying awake and early warning signs for when it is time to pull over:

  1. Warning sign: Eyes starting to squint and droop more often and they may possibly be dry and itchy from the forced air of the car heater.
  2. Tip: Being overly warm can increase sleepiness, an additional tip to the previous list would be open the window for a blast of cold air if you’re in a cold area or turn up the air conditioner if you’re in a warm area.
  3. Tip: Pull over and take a brief nap, 15-20 minutes can help.
  4. Tip: Or pull over and switch drivers if that is possible.
  5. Tip: Get a snack that isn’t too sugary or overly rick with fat calories which can make too much work for the digestive system. Caffeine from coffee or other caffeinated beverages can help but are not enough to combat a real need for sleep. Choosing a sugary snack may give an initial boost of energy but can wear off and leave you more sleepy. A protein rich snack such as a protein bar or trail mix with nuts or seeds may help with alertness for a longer time.
  6. Tip: Get some exercise, pull over for a brief walk. Warning sign:  If the exercise worked for a while but then you notice yourself losing some physical coordination or are stiff and sore. You may notice yourself letting the car drift to close to the shoulder of the road and are hearing the rumble strips along the side more often.
  7. Warning Sign:  The snack worked for a while but then the eyes started to droop again and maybe blink shut a few times – pull over because a rollover accident would be horrifying for you and any other travelers in your car or on the roadway. I have fallen asleep at the wheel before and woke up to the sound of the rumble strips. I over corrected at the sound and ended up flipping the car instead of smoothly getting back in the lane – I walked away with only a few bruises but the car was basically totaled from necessary bodywork. I also learned that it is good to have luggage and loose items secured in zipped or covered bags as loose items will also whirl around in the rolling car – it felt like being in a blender maybe – not an experience to repeat.
  8. Tip: Know your own limits and have the strength and courage to speak up for yourself. I was driving in a convoy of sorts and the other driver wanted to press on. I tried the cold air method and the snack method and did recognize the droopy eyes and I should have just pulled over. This was in the days before cellphones existed but sorting out travel plans later would be better than falling asleep at the wheel.  Several books including this one helped me to improve my ability to recognize and speak up for my own needs: Butler G., and Hope T., Managing Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide, (Oxford University Press, 1995, Oxford or New York) [2007 edition, Amazon] It is written in sections, encyclopedia style, so a reader can choose from the Table of Contents the particular topics that sound most helpful to their own situation.

Thermal blankets are available that are very compact if a full-size sleeping bag wasn’t desired. More detail on warmth and a link for an emergency kit is included a little later in this post.

I’ve been traveling the last couple of days and got a new Garmin GPS device for the trip. Seeing more of the country has been a goal for a while and seeing if there is interest in my research has also been a goal. Update, while I didn’t find any direct support of my research work I did find that interest in the topics I write about seems to exist – and I got a better idea of what people are interested in the larger world than I had been inhabiting. seeing the country is beautiful and a little nerve wracking but the technology of the new GPS device is better than an early model I had used in the past.

Overall the GPS device helped me drive across the country quicker than I expected the trip to take but I also put my habit of not sleeping much to work by driving part of the night in addition to the daytime hours. The roads are less busy and I am not used to the fast pace of crowded multi lane highways. My own miniature hotel was my back seat with the soft platform. It allows me to stretch my legs out to be able to be slightly more comfortably than the width of the car allows laying directly on the backseat. The platform might look silly but it’s fairly comfortable. Never fear hotels, your business is likely safe because it’s not that comfortable either. But pulling over when tired is important, sleepy drivers can be a danger to self and others. The strategy was particularly useful though when an ice storm caused a highway closure, there are far more semi trucks on the road than I would have guessed when you see them all lining up as they also arrive at the blocked section of highway and have to pull over somewhere along the side of the highway or Truck Stop parking area.

Truck Stops have some convenient features I discovered while waiting during the second stop. One section of highway was closed during the night due to the stormy weather and ice rink like road surface and another section was closed the next morning due to the number of accidents that required towing before that section of highway could be reopened. While waiting during the middle of the night stop I wrote out a few ideas for making luggage carrier/platform units that could be handy for a business or other frequent traveler in case they too were stuck somewhere or just needed to pull over for a short nap. The platform is more comfortable than sitting upright in the front seat but it isn’t really comfortable enough for a regular night’s sleep – so again don’t worry about your industry’s business hotels and motels – even if my luggage platform idea got produced it would be for the occasional use of a frequent traveler, similar in a way to the home on wheels that semi-trucks contain for their driver’s comfort and convenience.

With the sleeper platform I already have a hotel on wheels just like the semi truckers but with limited comfort and you have to keep the engine running for warmth in cold weather. Even with a blanket along temperatures can drop dangerously low if someone fell asleep for long, the cold weather sleeping bag allows you to stay warm in more extreme temperatures. Sleeping bags have temperature ratings on the label and I choose the warmest available – 0-30’F. It is a good idea to bring along a few emergency items in case you get stuck or stopped somewhere. Thermal metallic blankets are available that fold very small but retain heat well if needed in an emergency.

It is also important to shovel snow away from your exhaust pipe if you are stuck in a large pile of snow. The car exhaust can back up and cause poisonous levels of carbon dioxide to build up in the car. That might send a passenger to sleep forever.

My GPS device has been very helpful for navigating the complex highway and city streets.

My car did suffer some damage while traveling but I was not harmed. I do need to get more car repair work done and am retracing my travels to check in with family for the holiday season and save on hotel costs while the car repair work is completed, I can’t sleep in the car if it is in a repair shop after all – at least that’s the plan, I’ll keep trusting my GPS device to guide the way.

A lookout point somewhere in the mountains of California or Nevada or Utah- there are a lot of beautiful mountains across the region and sleepy driving is particularly dangerous on the tight S-curves.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.


All are equal in Equal Opportunity Programs

“Some are more equal than others” in the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. (paraphrased)

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

In the 60’s and 70’s women’s liberation and sexual liberation were somewhat connected. Being a single unwed mother was rare and was disapproved of.  That has changed for the better, women and children are accepted no matter the marital history. However the poverty support programs as they are currently written promote unwed mothers by penalizing couples -giving less support or no support help to married couples or unwed couples where the father is named.

A support net that promotes single parenting and not naming a child’s father is discriminating against the child’s right to know their father and their medical and cultural heritage. Welfare programs in larger areas even inspect for evidence of an unnamed father figure and women can lose their benefits even if the large size jeans were their own. Supporting children is a goal that benefits society and stressful situations make parenting more difficult. Rewriting policies that are more open to two parent households whether it is mom and dad, or mom and mom, or dad and dad, would be a positive goal for the sake of raising healthy and secure children who have adequate caregiving available.

Raising children is a challenge with two parents and raising them with one parent may be less stressful and the wiser choice if one parent is unreliable or abusive, so flexibility in any welfare type support net program is the wisest choice for the children’s sake. And for the future’s sake raising secure well adjusted children is most likely to lead to more well adjusted  prosocial tax paying self sufficient adults. (link elsewhere on this site.: From a previous post: Regarding potential underlying reasons for a person to resort to mass violence – typically it isn’t due to “mentally ill” people unless they were already prone to violence. An increased risk for violence is not associated with depression, anxiety or ADHD. Increased risk for mass violence is significantly associated though with being a male who had experienced child trauma and who is a binge drinker.  ( ))

Sexual liberation was openly discussed by some in the past, 60s/70s, but it wasn’t common for the average woman or household (some women were free/open to casual encounters but most others were not; and swinging/key parties were an experiment of the 70s). Now we have fifty percent (roughly) of children growing up in poverty and many of them living in poverty have single parent households. The inequality of women’s pay to men’s pay when broken down into more precise detail is actually more of a difference in mother’s pay to other’s pay. nytimes The salaries of women without children are more comparable to men’s wages.

So who is liberated now – father’s from their previous role as a head of household? Or are they liberated from being anywhere in the household? Maybe but liberated maybe not. Some are in prison as the number of prisoners has increased with the for-profit prison industry. Since 1974 the amount of prisoners has increased from a steady 100/100,000 to 500/100,000 by 2004.

Is sexual liberation still around – or just single parenthood? It seems to be the latter, based on my experience it went away with the increase in sexually transmitted disease and the increase in AIDS/HIV that occurred in the 80s and 90s.

What about equality? Are some animals more equal than others? Yes, some do seem to have different rules than others regarding taxation and legal protection and even in television show games we have many that focus on voting who to keep and who to remove from the lineup of contenders. Some animals are more equal it seems, in our modern times.

In my world we are all equal and the animals count too. We need offshore microbes to modify the form of trace minerals found in ocean water into a form that is available in the atmosphere.

Some animals may think they are more equal than other animals but in the long run we may all be looking to microbes for help that they won’t be able to provide in an ocean that is more acidic and warmer. It is hard to predict who will be more equal than who in a greatly changed world, planning ahead now might make the transition go smoother. Stopping change is already too late, it is happening at the more severe rates that have been used in calculations of predicted events.

In the world I grew up as a child in the 70s we cared about climate and cleaning up air and water and women’s liberation included freedom to touch and be touched not just be seen in more exposed and expensive fashions. Fathers were part of the household, not just on visitation days. Was it perfect then? probably not, but is it perfect now? not really. Lack of jobs for many and lack of time for those who do have jobs is a problem in our modern society that isn’t going to change without the creation of new industries. Globalization has decreased poverty around the world but has led to fewer jobs in the U.S. that are as well paying in proportion to the type of pay that a father as head of household might have had in the 50s or 60s. It will require planned change in priorities to create a new job or basic income society. The advantage could be more stable parenting by two parent households.

Men, on average, are still expected to be a good earner in order to win a woman’s partnership as a spouse and parent. Expectations may be involved in the suicide rate by males which is a problem of our modern society that was also a problem in the 50s and 60s. More men commit suicide than women on average (males ~18-21/100,000, females ~ 4-6/100,000) and both rates have been fairly consistent since the 1950s.  Social roles being demanding in different ways seems unlikely to explain that consistent of a difference, speculatively, testosterone levels are not directly associated with violence but in individuals whether male or female if prone to violence increased testosterone can increase tendency towards violence and suicide is a violent reaction against the self. (Sapolosky, Behave)

So are women liberated yet? are men? are children? Prisoners certainly aren’t. / And are we sexually liberated yet? I read one study showed an average of less than two encounters per week for couples – we were supposed to be shocked that the use of medical marijuana was associated with a 20% increase in the rate, bumping up close to 1/week to closer to 2/week – I was shocked by both rates. It was not a large study, so maybe there’s more healthy fun going on in the world of consensual couples. Although for the busy pace of a full-time job and commute and helping with children’s homework or doing other household chores it can be difficult to find energy let alone time for extraneous activities no matter how fun. For me fun, solo, helps with better mental health and it can have pain killing benefits for a woman. Migraine relief was sometimes only a few minutes of concentration away if I had some privacy. Good and good for you.

Asexuality seems to be the new liberation. Zinc and omega 3 fatty acids and iodine and selenium may all be helpful for boosting that average for men or women. Food sources of iodine and selenium are available here:

Some animals do seem to be more equal than others. George Orwell was right about that part.

The new site that I still need to work on is meant as ideas, not to be considered better or worse than anyone, the point of Equal Opportunity Programs is that all are treated equally, equal service offered in a variety of languages. The site has ideas, just ideas to consider and online translation services can give a rough translation, but currently the site is in English and written from the perspective of someone who worked in the U.S. in a field that was largely staffed by women, so my ideas may not convert well to a modern mixed gender working world, however the goal of Equal Opportunity Employment is that gender ratios in all of the businesses participating would be similar or not matter if they weren’t in similar ratios. Pay and benefits would be equivalent. Goals are a starting point to consider and work towards, ideas are a place to start.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.  

Giving Thanks to each other and to Indigenous People

Happy Thanksgiving and unThanksgiving. The holiday commemorates a shared meal that didn’t end well for all of the guests. Some history is not shared in full detail. It may spare the feelings of some while dismissing the feelings and history of others. The holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States is based on an event that is celebrated as the pilgrims first meal shared with native indigenous people – at least in my memory of early school years.

The actual date is based on an event with a much different story. A peaceful meal was planned but it didn’t remain peaceful for the indigenous hosts. May they enjoy some eternal peace. You can read and here more about the history of that first Thanksgiving here: Thanksgiving Alcatraz Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering

Giving thanks is a healing activity every day of the year. Spending time with family and friends makes it a special day to appreciate each other and our shared heritage with its joy and its sorrow.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use.