Crowded boat in rough water

Deciding how to isolate yourself, your project or family is a lot like choosing a lifeboat. Any ocean vessel must isolate the people and goods on board from waves and weather, so the boat you’re on is generally crucial for your quality of life and your very survival.  The size, equipment, traveling companions and itinerary all demand careful consideration before you think about getting on board.

A smaller boat can be more maneuverable, better equipped to clear reefs and shoals, and less likely to have aggressive or unfriendly people aboard since there are fewer of them.  A large ship can be more stable in heavy seas and far better equipped for comfort and safety and will often have a larger, more qualified crew.  These are generalities, however, and every journey will deliver surprises.  It’s great to prepare, when possible, but the fact is, we can’t always choose the vessel, as it may be chosen for us without any consultation.


Big life boats are a mixed bag

The planet Earth is a good example.  We were born here, so our options are limited.  There is much to be said for it, in that it is well equipped to isolate us from the harsh vacuum and radiation ofEarth viewed from space space, and it is stocked with food, shelter and a long list of entertaining things to do.  On the other hand, who chooses to board a ship knowing that it is loaded with passengers unable to agree about who booked what cabin, who eats in what dining room and who is the Captain.

Worse still, there are 195 captains who can’t agree on how to set the thermostat, much less on navigation.  And don’t get me started about the number of passengers and crew with serious communicable diseases.  What a mess!

Martian moon, Phobos

Martian moon, Phobos

Since we have no better options than Earth, lets consider what we can actually change, when isolation is a choice.



I mention life boats and our planet because they provide a great contrast between small isolation and isolation that is huge.  This highlights the fact that when we “go big” in our isolation choices, there can be painful consequences to that choice.  Of course to “micro-size” can be just as bad, as many boat refugees find out the hard way.

This is true in our homes and work, as well.  While an extra large refrigerator or oven can come in handy at times, they require more frequent cleaning, more energy to operate and may require more expensive maintenance.  That isn’t a good life choice for the couple that mostly eats out, or has small dinners for two.

These same issues are at play for the R/D or clinical laboratory that must decide on a cryogenic freezer, incubator or isolation glove box.  If this equipment is right-sized, it can provide substantial returns in efficient, effective, quality results.  If undersized, it may be a bottleneck that limits the quantity of work that can be done, or scope of business.  If over-sized or over-specified, it may be more difficult to operate, less reliable and more costly to maintain, limiting speed, cost effectiveness and competitiveness of the business.

The bottom line is simple; whether in life or in business it is important to understand the demands of the trip we are to make, and choose a vehicle properly sized and equipped for that journey.

Safe travels,

Steve T.

Editor, Fail-Safe Isolation

Photo by Eddy Boom on Unsplash

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10 thoughts on “Choose Your Life Boat

  • By Craig - Reply

    Hey Steve, never has a truer word been spoken my friend! Managing family isolation comes with experience and also includes how we travel to and from various destinations, which people we allow into our lives and people we definitely don’t want in our lives. I prefer to go for a medium sized or slightly smaller lifeboat if you get my drift.

    • By Steve Tattershall - Reply

      Thanks Craig. Glad you approve.  Yes, while I’m not a big fan of hermit-type isolation, I do value the privacy that a smaller lifeboat affords.  Besides, the Mrs. would not be happy if she had to stay dressed after a hard day of work.  Seriously, the expansion of the population in our circle has real consequences to family health when we have kids in school; they bring home a LOT of unwelcome additions to the family microbiome.  Thanks again for your comment.

  • By ches - Reply

    I really liked your analogy about earth as our lifeboat, it made me smile. The job of isolation is so important and reminded me of an episode hubby had to deal with when working as senior technical officer in a foot and mouth lab.
    He was using a fume hood and gloves with hydrogen fluoride which as you know is hazardous stuff. Suddenly, there was an implosion which sent the whole of laboratory staff running for cover, whilst he had to deal with the problem. It turns out the suck back collapsed one of the 3 polythene bottles there to protect the gas cylinder. This proving that the bottles weren’t up to the pressure involved, something I suspect you would have checked before the event?
    I enjoyed your post. Ches

    • By Steve Tattershall - Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts, Ches.  Yes, HF is very powerful stuff, and difficult to deal with.  While I’m not a fan of fume hood use for working with this sort of acidic hazard (I prefer barrier isolation for such uses) I can’t second guess the precautions in this case.  Each procedure deserves a specific operating and safety protocol to match the priorities and challenges of the facility and project where it is performed.  I can’t critique work that I don’t fully understand.  Thanks for your input, and thanks to your husband for his work in animal health.

  • By Teresa - Reply

    This is awesome. The contrast as well as the content. Amazing job! I have sailed the larger boat in my younger years and didn’t mind, however, I think as we get older we become wiser. We realize bigger isn’t always better.
    I enjoy keeping things small now, everything in my circle.

    When we find that balance we don’t want to tip the boat. The Earth provides us with everything we need, we just have to find our comfort zone and maintain that level.
    Great article! Keep moving forward and I wish you the very best!!

    • By SteveT - Reply

      Hi Teresa… Thanks for visiting and sharing. I’m happy that you appreciate this post, and very pleased to share this boat with you! Please visit us again, we will benefit from your thoughts.

  • By Melanie G Hernandez - Reply

    Steve, you couldn’t be more correct about Earth as our lifeboat. Made me think for sure. Thanks for that. We often want to go big. You’v heard the term, Go Big or Go Home, I’m sure. Often, that really isn’t the mentality we should have. It seems as if our focus is skewed there. We have so many variable to contemplate. At any rate, thank you for you wonderful writing. Loved it!

    • By SteveT - Reply

      Good to hear from you, Melanie! I agree, whether we look at the wild fellow passengers who share our planet or the troubled citizens who share a country with us, our mission to work and live with those who find themselves “in the same boat” is a challenging one. Good to have you in the boat with us. Thanks for sharing; glad you enjoyed the post.

  • By S. Fred - Reply

    I can really relate to the idea of our planet as a boat with troublesome passengers and no real agreement on who is the navigator. Continuing that idea, I have to wonder what we can do about it when there are no ports or islands where we can seek refuge from the insanity. I hope you can offer some ideas on how we can cope with the self destructive insanity that surrounds us here. I do appreciate the discussion, but what about solutions?

    • By SteveT - Reply

      That’s the question, isn’t it; what can we do about the environmental and political chaos on this increasingly crowded planet Earth? Since we can’t easily escape the planet, various forms of isolation can offer some measure of relief, if we don’t take them too far. We will explore this idea further in future posts.

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