Ask Red & Black

What would you grab if you had to evacuate your home?

FULL QUESTION: Given all these natural disasters, what would you grab if you had to evacuate your home?


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Well, it really depends on how much time I have. For example, it wasn't a natural disaster, but several years ago, a gas line at my house was accidentally cut when foundation work was being done. All I did was run in, grab my daughter and dogs, the cars keys, and got the "you know what" out of there. You hear stories of people taking photos, computers, and perhaps a beloved stuffed animal, but in that moment, all I cared about was saving the lives of my loved ones.

A few years prior, when Hurricane Harvey was quickly intensifying and heading toward Texas, I had about six hours after getting a mandatory evacuation notice to get out of the house. So, at that point, I was able to not only pack my bags but gather important documents and a few sentimental items (and move things to the second floor in case the first floor flooded). Granted, it was all in an incredible rush/panic, but I still had those few precious hours. Now, copies of all my important papers are in a binder, ready to grab. And I created a master "evacuation checklist" based on this hurricane checklist (as that's the most "common" natural disaster in Texas) if I'm lucky enough to have time to pack.


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Given natural disasters do not always give you lead time, everyone should have an evacuation checklist. I based mine on this evacuation list (but, the Ready Campaign has lots of great planning tools) as well as experience, since Hurricane Harvey resulted in a mandatory evacuation of my high-rise. (The basement, where all the building's mechanical equipment is located, flooded and left the building without power and uninhabitable for almost two months.)

I have always had digital copies of key documents on my primary computer (a laptop that I would grab), but now I also have them on two portable hard drives – one in a safety deposit box and the other in my "evacuation time capsule". And, what I mean by that is … imagine you were going to lose everything in your home – determine what items would you want to "save" (whether for sentimental or practical reasons) and put them in a small piece of luggage or carry bag. The interesting thing is when you do that, you will most likely find the items you consider irreplaceable are not the most expensive ones (those become your insurance company's problem, anyway.)

FULL QUESTION: Do you have any tips for looking “nice” during the heat of the summer? And for going into fall since it’s still hot?

Well, technically, July may be the hottest month (and this year it was record-setting hot), but given August is still “too darn hot” (we love the musical number), and it will probably run into September, we thought we’d rerun this “Ask Red & Black” …



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I'm laughing because I suspect Black would argue that I rarely look "nice" in the sense that I rarely "dress up". Even before the pandemic, unless I had a Red & Black business meeting or speaking engagement, my normal "look" was that of super comfy – workout or very casual clothing and minimal makeup. Here in Texas, where the heat and humidity are oppressive, I'm always looking for tips because the moment you step outside, you're going to start sweating, your makeup will drip, and your hair will either frizz or wilt (neither's a good look for me). So, I keep my skincare simple and summer-friendly – extremely lightweight, tinted facial moisturizer with a high SPF (so I only need a single product) and waterproof mascara.

I've never been very creative when managing my long hair for the summer, but my daughter let me in on a secret when she straightened my hair for me. Unlike my rushed approach, she took an extra 10 minutes to do it in smaller sections, which looked great when my hair was down but, amazingly, even made my ponytail look "finished". Taking a little more time to do it right makes a huge difference as now my hair stands up to the heat and humidity. (Good news is she's always willing to do it for me, bad news is that she goes to college in a few months, so I'll have to learn how to do it myself.)


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


When I started racing cars in the mid-1990s, I cut my hair very short so I could easily style it with some water and hair goo when I removed my helmet, which makes it perfect for summer. (Plus, I calculated that I could save over 10 hours/month, or five full days a year, by not dealing with my hair.)

In terms of clothing, it is a function of where you are going or where you work (obviously, if you are in the banking industry, you will dress very differently than someone who works for a design or marketing firm). For the last few decades, I have worn the same "uniform" – dark slacks or jeans, white shirt, blazer, and colorful Hermès shawl. In the summer, I select pieces that are light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable fabrics, but if I had to give one tip, it would be to wear layers since going in and out of air-conditioning can be a challenge, although I see it as a fashion opportunity. In fact, that is how my "signature" shawls started as, regardless of the season, I would always have one with me to handle changes in temperature.
In honor of Milkman Day (yes, that’s a “thing”), we’re running one of Red’s favorite “Ask Red & Black” posts. A post she’s often reminded of because she took Black’s advice about milk bottles …



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Funny you should ask, as I was recently getting ready for a garage sale of our mom’s things and came across an old metal carrying basket that I think is for milk bottles. Although my memory of our milkman is that he left the milk bottles in a small rectangular metal box outside our front door.

Anyway, my best memory of fresh milk, especially chocolate milk, was going to Dairy Barn with our dad. It was a drive-through; we’d return the old bottles, get our deposit back, and pick up new ones. I have to admit that when my mom started to get milk at our local Waldbaum’s (anyone growing up on Long Island will remember them) in paper cartons, I thought it was a little sad. Plus, I didn’t think the milk tasted as good.

Recently, when I saw some old-fashioned milk bottles from 1836 Farms at my local Kroger, although it was more expensive, I bought one just because it reminded me of my youth. In fact, when I initially told Black I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much on milk, she suggested I could reuse the bottle as a vase. And it always makes me smile!


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Since you mentioned your grandmother, which makes me feel old, you may have to ask her to explain what we meant when we teased Red, a redhead in a family of brunettes, of being the “ milkman’s daughter ”.

Looking back, “milkmen” and dairy delivery services were ahead of their time. They delivered milk as well as other dairy products, and seem to be a precursor to Instacart, Amazon Fresh , and all the food delivery services . Not to mention, it was a way to reuse the glass milk bottles (remember, this was decades before recycling was a “thing”).

Regardless, when we taught at KIPP Houston High School , I asked our students if they had ever heard of a milkman. (Most had not.) And then (of course), I followed up with an assortment of other questions … Can jobs become obsolete? What creates new opportunities? Do you think there may be jobs in the future that no one has ever heard of yet? What can you do to be prepared? So, if nothing else, I hope the milkman makes you stop and think …
FULL QUESTION: My son’s going off to college but doesn’t know what he wants to study. Is that a problem? Here’s an update.

When we ran this question two years ago, Red’s daughter was starting college. Reviewing this, she says her answer remains the same. As does Black’s …


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In a word, no! And that comes from someone who knew what I wanted to study (theater), but even though I graduated with honors, I proceeded to do absolutely nothing with it. The good news is my daughter, who seems to have grown up in the blink of an eye , learned from my mistakes. She's going off to college in the fall, and I'd love to share some of what was discussed at orientation last week.

It's funny because it was, in many ways, a recap of so many of Black's soapboxes, which I've come to understand, appreciate, and completely agree with. The primary message was that it's important to prepare students with skills, but how shaping them as individuals of character (one of my soapboxes ever since I read the book "A Question Of Character: A Life About John F. Kennedy" that, although written almost 25 years ago, may be even more relevant today) with the ability to think critically was even more important. Especially as we don't know what the future holds in terms of new (or changed, or even obsolete) careers.


Black's HeadBlack assets.rebelmouse.io


Red and I had very different approaches to college, and while she was the "better student" in terms of grades, she looked at her college degree as the objective. Whereas I saw college as a step along the way, so approached it with a very different mindset and perspective. I was open to learning new things and exploring opportunities. And, I focused as much on developing soft skills as I did technical skills, as I recognized those skills would always be necessary – both professionally and personally. I also realized that learning never ends and now, at 60+ years old, am still committed to being a lifelong learner.

More specifically, in terms of your son, college is an excellent opportunity for him to take classes that he thinks he might enjoy or even classes he has never been exposed to before. Plus, internships and volunteer work are great ways to get experience and help decide the direction he may want to go (or not go). Along the way, he should network as that, along with school counselors and professors, will help him gain insight into future career paths (and be valuable in other ways).