Optical Retail Success 161


Sometimes tasty, sometimes bitter, weekly nuggets of random goodness; tips, stories, and science hand-picked to help you find the most success in your life and optical retail business/career.

Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small.
—Dr. Seuss


COVID-19: What Now!?

“What did you do during the Coronavirus pandemic?”, your children or grandchildren ask with a hand on your knee.

What will your answer be? Will it be worry? Hoarding? Blaming? Holing up to binge on Netflix and 24 hour news?

You do not control what happens, you only control how you respond.

As of this moment, you have no control over the CDC, the WHO, the president, the congress, the governor, the school superintendent, the virus, the mayor, your employer, your landlord, or even your neighbor. So, any blaming or complaining is a criminal waste of precious time and energy. Now is not the time finger pointing, even though there seems to be plenty to go around. 

You, for better or for worse are here, in this situation, right now. 

There are far more important things to worry about: things that are under your control, ways that you can help your fellow humans. Let’s start by not doing this and encouraging our young stupid people to stop. 

By all reasonable accounts, this is not going away in two weeks, probably not even two months. If you still have any doubt as to the gravity of the situation. Please, please, please read this newsletter I received today from molecular geneticist and Harvard researcher, David Sinclair (I couldn’t find a web page to link to, so I copied the html from the newsletter here). 

Here’s an excerpt:

The next few weeks are going to be bad, folks. Here’s what experts from Stanford on the front-lines predict: peak COVID-19 cases will not be until July 2020, with a total number of deaths in the USA ranging from 500,000 to 1 million. That’s sobering.

Another excerpt particularly relevant to opticians and optometrists: 

Fomites (surfaces that spread disease) can infect you 24-96 hours after someone has contaminated it, depending on whether it is steel or plastic. Droplets from breath can stay in the air for 30 minutes before falling to the ground. If you can smell someone’s breath, say if they had recently smoked or ate garlic, you can be infected. Think of these droplets like they were a fog.

Of course, none of this even begins to address the economic ramifications we are facing down the road. But, one crisis at a time (please).


Wow, everytime I go back to proof what I just wrote, my chest tightens. 


So, now what?

Well, of course, you have to stay home to the maximum extent possible and avoid other people. Do what you can to convince others to do the same. 

But then what? Crawl into a fetal position? Worry yourself to death? Wait for the government to save you? Binge on Netflix and news? 

What can we do?

What if instead of the above mentioned options, we try to figure out what’s next? Where can we go from here? Let’s focus on what can be done instead of what can’t. Learn something. Make something. Start something. Share something. Do something. Just don’t do it within 6 feet of others. 

In many ways, we are incredibly lucky to be going through this at a time when we have so many options to stay connected with others, so many digital resources at our disposal to learn, build, and create. In fact, that very well may be our saving grace. This technological marvel we call the internet may be the thing that brings us out of this (scientifically, socially, and economically).

We are still at the very beginning of this crisis. Our world is undergoing a major change. It’s changing in many more ways than what are currently visible or even predictable. A year from now, things will be very different for all of us. How will you look back on this time? Will you have used your time to contribute? Or will you have only partaken in stashes of toilet paper and hand sanitizer?


Memento mori 

Honestly, I’m a bit scared. This is big, bigger than anything humanity has faced in a long time. But we all have to remember that we’re not in this alone. Most of the planet is dealing with it at the same time you are. 

What’s both wonderful (can I say that?) and terrifying about this crisis is that it serves as a reminder—perhaps more like a whack to the side of the head—that our lifestyle, the systems we depend on, and our life itself are far more fragile and impermanent than they appear. A core tenet of stoic philosophy is the Latin phrase “memento mori” which translates to “remember you will die.” Rather than a morbid fixation, it’s a reminder to hold the time we have as precious and focus on what really matters. 

Imagine today is the last day of your life. Looking back, are you satisfied? What are you proud of? 

Well you’re reading this, so you're not dead, which means you have the power to change the answer. As has happened in so many other critical periods in our short history, my hope is this will bring us back to what really matters and we will all be better for it. Neither the virus nor the economic fallout care whether you are Republican or Democrat, Christian or Muslim, black or white, American or Chinese. We are in this together. 


Some practical advice

I had a list of things for you to do and think about in terms of your business, you customers, and your employees. But, now sadly it seems many, if not most opticals are likely to close. Some, perhaps, for longer than they can financially endure. We are all too aware of this. As a lab we are already feeling your hardship. While writing this Laramy-K Optical has been forced to let go half of our beloved staff. Many, many other people also will be out of work or without income. That is one part of this story for which I certainly do not have an answer, but maybe we can figure it out together. Keep reading. 

But, for now, let’s focus on what you can do personally.


Watch (or keep up with) the local news

Yes, I know. For 10 years I have advocated against watching the local news or any news for that matter. But, when we’re hearing about closures, quarantines, and lockdowns, in a rapidly evolving situation like this, it is critical you know what is going on in your community. Just don’t get sucked into the void. Use the information. Anticipate what is coming. Plan and prepare. 

It’s probably best to mostly avoid the 24 hour news channels, no matter the flavor, since each is likely to be blaming the other side and peddling fear. I have also found the presidential briefings to be informative, if you can tolerate them.

If you want additional information on the virus, look for the experts. Listen to them. Don’t fall for opportunists or quackery. Here are a few good ones:

Of course David Sinclair, mentioned above.

Dr. Peter Attia 

Dr. John Campbell 


Stay healthy

Maintain a healthy diet. Avoid consuming too much sugar or alcohol (even though it may be even more tempting in times like these). Get outside and get some sunshine! Even if you find yourself having to self-quarantine, that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside. Just avoid other people. There is some evidence that fresh air and sunshine might actually be a weapon in the fight against viruses of this nature. 


Social distancing

I know you’ve heard it a million times by now. But, seriously, this is everything! Stop going out to eat. Cook at home. The risk is picking up something from surfaces is too great.


Respond to stress with action not inaction

Worry helps no one, including yourself. Do something. Be proactive. Move. Plan. Help yourself or more importantly come up with ways to help others. Just don’t do it within six feet of them.



Exercise is proven to elevate mood and improve your immune function. Avoid anything overly taxing. Strenuous exercise can actually lower your immune system before it has time to build back up. Also, keep in mind the relative safety of your chosen activity. The last thing you need is to break a bone and inadvertently end up in an already-stressed health care system.



Meditation is another activity proven to reduce stress and improve health. I have long been a proponent of meditation but have often struggled to maintain a practice. So, I’ll just throw something out there that has been working for me. I combine meditation with the Wim Hof breathing method.  This breathing method not only makes you feel amazing but it also has the added benefit of boosting your immune system. Be forewarned Wim Hof is endlessly fascinating and lovable, but also bat shit crazy. Fortunately, science—and his unfreakin’believeable accomplishments—back up most of his claims. 

If you’ve never meditated but are interested, there are countless meditation apps, YouTube videos and websites with free guided meditations. One of my favorites is Tara Brach.  To my knowledge the method you choose is less important than the practice itself. Wim Hof also has a free app with guided breathing exercises. Just avoid the cold therapy part of his method until we get through this, because it can have a similar effect on immune function as strenuous exercise. 



While it may be difficult, getting good sleep is essential to immune function. If you are out of work, please, maintain a regular sleep schedule. If you are struggling to get good sleep because of worries and stress, regular exercise and meditation can help. 


So, in three months will we look back and laugh? Perhaps.

Either way, I don’t want to know that I wasted an opportunity when I might have helped someone, built something to contribute to our new reality, or made connections with other human beings in need (keep in mind, I am a shut-in level introvert here). At least I can do my best to not let fear get the best of me and I hope you will join me.

Please, be kind (online and off). Be generous. Love those around you. We need to be more than survivors. We need to take every opportunity to help. To connect. To care. To grow together. To create. Just don’t do it within 6 feet of others.

If you are able, don’t wait for someone to save you. Be creative. Be strong. Let’s figure this out the best we can. Learn something new. Make a meaningful contribution. 


Now, let’s start a discussion. 


What current struggle (personal or business) are you facing or enduring?

What advice do you have for others in your situation?

What new thing or opportunity (personal or business) does this crisis make possible for you?

Just email keith@laramyk.com and let me know. 


Until next time, hang in there! 

Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace. 



P.S. Whatever you do, please don’t drink bleach or shove a hair dryer up your nose. These are not cures for the virus and the world still needs you.


P.P.S Speaking of learning!

In case you missed them here are the videos we’ve put together while I’ve been absent from the Optical Retail Success newsletter. 

Specific Gravity and Lens Materials

Abbe Value and Lens Materials

Index of Refraction

Extending Temples and Other Simple Frame Refurbishments


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Much love,