With the holidays upon us, what a better title to review than Never Home Alone? This ain't no Christmas movie, though. This is a great resource from perhaps the most knowledgable author on the subject matter. Instead of criminals and scary neighbors, Never Home Alone stars critters from microbes to millipedes, camel crickets, and honeybees, that share the natural history of where we live. In other words, this book is about the 200,000 critters that share our homes, ensuring we will never be truly home alone.
I read this book for several reasons. First, a good friend of mine recommended it. My friend literally wrote the book on ventilation in homes, so I took his recommendation seriously. Second, I don't talk about my profession at all, but I will say this: My real job includes making homes more healthy. This book is all about healthy homes and people, but with a twist that I have not considered until now. And last, but probably the real reason I gravitated towards and loved this book so much, is the fact that my heroes have always been scientists. My favorite authors are all scientists (E.O. Wilson, Jane Goodall), or the next best thing, science writers (David Quammen, Mary Roach, Susan Casey). The author, Rob Dunn, is a biologist and university professor with an impressive resume. I'm not sure if I should call him Doctor or Professor. I hope to meet him soon so he can tell me, but also to discuss healthy homes. Keep reading and you'll see why.
Never Home Alone tells the extraordinary stories behind the limited number of studies that have been performed on the critters that live in our homes, from bacteria to insects to rodents. Some of those studies discovered there are an average of 100 insects living in American homes. In Chapter 12, Rob Dunn estimates he and his colleagues have found roughly 200,000 species of bacteria, fungi, insects, etc., living in each one of our homes.
I learned quite a bit about bacteria and pathogens from this book. I won't give away all the details, but I want to list some of my key takeaways that will hopefully garner your interest enough to read the book.
Some of you may be thinking this sounds like an anti-vax, essential oil, hocus-pocus take on bacteria. It's not. It was written by a scientist that authored most of the research papers on critters in homes. The book is stocked full of references and studies from all over the world. The content is fascinating and intelligently written, but now that you know my profession, you may consider me biased. I certainly do! Check it out for yourself and tell me your thoughts. This book has probably influenced how I will design healthy homes and programs for the rest of my life. I need to do more research, but I expect inoculating our homes with bacteria could, someday, be as popular as taking vitamins. I highly recommend this book for anyone that lives indoors.
'Capital Gaines. Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Things' by Chip Gaines
This is a short read by the guy from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. As the title says, Chip gets himself into a few pickles early in life that he learned hard, valuable lessons from. Chip is an unexpected story teller. But, perhaps something he is better at than telling stories, is relating his mistakes into life lessons that all of us can learn from. Upfront, this is a motivational book, but it gives an insight to behind the scenes life for Chip and JoAnna and how they built their Magnolia empire.
The reader really feels like they are in the passenger seat watching the Gaines' build their legacy. After reading the book, I have a new sense of who they are, and I'm more than pleased to see I have more than a few things in common with Chip. So maybe it's my mirror bias that makes me like this book so much. That aside, I did learn a few things, which is why we read books written by hugely successful people in the first place. We want to know how they did it so we can try to emulate their path toward our own successes.
In the last chapter, Chip Gaines explains how he wants to be a runway that allows others to soar. His runway metaphor struck a positive cord with me, because that is exactly what we want Chesapeake Wanderlust to be. Chip's desire is to be a good father, husband, employer, business owner, and citizen of Earth. Those desires should resonate with most people, but a few of them stick out to me in profound ways.
How many of us work for an employer that honestly wants what is best for their employees? How many employers have perfected the balance between meeting the needs of the people that make their business what it is, but also run a successful business? I've tried to start a few businesses, and none of them have been successful. I have, however, managed many people in my career, and I've been managed by many people. Unfortunately, most of my managers have been terrible. But I learned how not to be a manager from them. Chip and I have a similar management theory, and if I ever get to run a successful business I will follow this rule: The people make a company. Happy employees equals happy customers. And sometimes what's best for an employee is to use our company as a runway to soar off to better things. And that's OK!
Another thing Chip talked about that resonates with me is the fact that he wants to be a good citizen of Earth. I feel like we get wrapped up in our own day to day lives so much, that we forget there is a whole world out there that we are part of, whether we want to be or not. Since we have to be here, why not have a positive effect on everyone we cross paths with? Chip asks the question somewhere in the book, and I'll paraphrase, "Who are our neighbors?" Chip is a religious person, so he uses parables from the Bible throughout this book. One that he spends some time on is, "Love thy neighbor." But, who are our neighbors, he asks? Do they live next door? Are they the business owners and citizens of our community? Are other Americans our neighbors? Chip and I both agree that every Earthling is our neighbor, and we owe it to them to love them, no matter where they are from, how they worship or don't worship, what color they are, how much money they make/have/don't have, etc.
The big take away for me is to live like Chip and believe in everyone. Yes, you will get burned a few times, but the rewards will be bountiful. An employee needs to leave for a better opportunity at another company? Don't get mad at them! Celebrate their achievement and be thankful for the time you had with them and hopefully the company you built helped that person on their path. A homeless person needs a job? Offer them a job! Even if it doesn't work out, at least you gave them the opportunity. An immigrant needs shelter? Welcome them to this wonderful nation we have built! Love everyone; love thy neighbor.