Kids, don't try this at home

Thanks for the laugh, Dr. Reardon. Plus gratitude and humor, and 7 other things worth your time.

It’s very important to practice gratitude, especially in times of crisis.

Today, I am grateful to Dr. Daniel Reardon, 27, of Melbourne, Australia.

Dr. Reardon is an astrophysicist studying pulsars and gravitational waves at Swinburne University. Like so many of us, he’s been isolated at home as a result of COVID-19.

So, he tried to use some of his downtime to invent something he thought might help — a device designed to help people stop touching their faces.

Hilarity ensued.

As Reardon explained from his hospital bed (that’s foreshadowing, right there), he wanted to build a necklace/bracelet combination that would buzz if your hands approached your face, using “four powerful neodymium magnets.”

But, things went awry.

‘Downhill pretty quickly’

First, as Reardon told The Guardian newspaper, he accidentally worked the device backward, so that instead of buzzing when you touched your face, it did the opposite: buzzed continuously UNLESS you touched your face.

Scrapping that idea, but “still a bit bored,” as he described it, Dr. Reardon clipped the magnets to his earlobes. I think at this point he was just clowning around.

Then … fateful decision … he clipped them to his nostrils.

“Things went downhill pretty quickly,” he said.

The powerful magnet in his right nostril became stuck to the powerful magnet in his left nostril.

He was now the astrophysicist with two magnets stuck in his nose.

Struggles and Google searches followed. It turns out, he’s not the first person ever to get magnets stuck in his nostril.

But the solution he found—which involved using his two remaining magnets to get the first two magnets out—only made things worse. They became stuck as well.

“At this point I ran out of magnets,” he continued.

But, our story is not over.

‘The doctors thought it was quite funny’

Reardon tried pulling them out with pliers, but the pliers became magnetized as well.

Finally, he went to the hospital, where a medical team made an unofficial diagnosis of “injury due to self-isolation and boredom.” Eventually, they got the magnets out.

“The doctors thought it was quite funny,” Reardon said afterward. I think so, too —- which is why I’m grateful to him for sharing the story so openly.

They said comedy equals tragedy plus time—but this all happened just a few days ago, and the truth that most of us realize is that there’s a lot more for us to struggle through with this whole pandemic.

Which is the reason why I’m grateful to be able to find things like this to share.

We need to be very serious about what it will take to come through all this. But we also need to find ways to express hope, and gratitude — and heck yes, laughter.

Speaking of which — we’ll get to the serious stuff below — but if you’ve got a story like this to share, either hit me up at bill@understandably.com, or else click through and share them in the comments.

Comments welcome

7 other things worth your time

  • List of states with partial and full-on lockdowns or stay-at-home orders as of Monday evening: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Parts of Florida, too. (Business Insider)

  • The IRS ordered most of its employees across the entire U.S. to work from home. (Politico)

  • Third order effect of social distancing: Less accurate weather forecasts. Fewer passengers mean fewer commercial airline flights, and it turns out airliners still play an important role in tracking the weather. (AccuWeather)

  • Some Instacart and Amazon employees staged a strike Monday, and Whole Foods employees plan a sick-out today. (NPR, Vice)

  • A Florida megachurch pastor who held heavily attended services over the weekend was arrested on charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders. There are big time First Amendment issues here, but as they say: the Constitution is not a suicide pact. (Tampa Bay Times)

  • Gas is cheaper than it’s been in a long time. Too bad there’s nowhere to go. (ABC News)

  • Children’s author Tomie dePaola passed away at age 85. My daughter loves his Strega Nona stories. And as so often happens, I learned more about him from his obituary than I ever knew before. Rest in peace. (Associated Press)

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