December 31, 2020

We’re all pretty-much done with 2020, in every sense… and if you go by the multitude of emails I’ve gotten in the last 24 hours, “Time is running out!”… so, now what.

Next year offers a promise of “back to normal”, and it means very different things to different people. I’m not sure there’s a familiar “normal” to go back to, because so much has changed.

Even without the pandemic, there’s all the healing that’ll be necessary after the Trump presidency… but that’s a whole other discussion. On paper, that presidency ends January 20th, but the unfortunate truth is that its effects will carry on for decades.

Conversely, the pandemic will have no fixed date of “It’s over!!” but by this time next year, it largely will be, at least around here.

Restaurants, travel, getting together with friends… all of that… it’s coming back. Briefly, it’ll come back with a vengeance… a miniature roaring-20s. Then, that’ll get old (and expensive), and things will drift back to yesteryear.

But those aren’t the things that’ll really signify normalcy. For me, it’ll be the moment I realize I need a specific part from my favourite electronics shop… and I go over there, walk in, get what I need, drive home… and not give a moment’s thought to hand sanitizer, a mask or whether I’m wearing the right clothes to be waiting outside for 30 minutes, peering through the windows while people nonchalantly browse the aisles, clueless or not caring about the fact that the shop has a three-person limit. One day, it’ll be like the good old days, and when I don’t even realize it – that’s when it’s really over.

Yeah, all things considered, I’d actually rather go over there and get it myself… as opposed to click-click-click on Amazon, wait at least a day, and then see the colossal waste of plastic and cardboard and whatever other resources were needed to get this little part to me. Call it old-school… but I think we’re all pining for a little old-school. It’s what’ll be on our minds as we celebrate tonight – “Remember last year?” – yes, I certainly do. And look forward to exactly that exactly a year from now, and every year thereafter.

So, for 2020, that’s a wrap. This hackneyed phrase we throw around every year has a lot more meaning this year, and I say it with all sincerity to each an every one of you… wishing you a happy, prosperous and, above all, *healthy* – 2021.

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By |2020-12-31T17:03:15-08:00December 31st, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|Tags: , , , |17 Comments

December 30, 2020

Completely unrelated to everything… just a random thought.

While stereotypes often exist for a reason – there’s usually some fundamental tiny grain of truth to them and/or some origin that can be pointed to – I don’t really understand this “Karen” meme.

The name Karen has now come to imply the proto-typical entitled white woman with an attitude… the “I’d like to speak to the manager” Karen or the call-the-cops-on-someone-Black-for-no-reason Karen or, more recently, Coronavirus Karen who proudly won’t wear a mask in public, is anti-vaxx, and might even cough on you if you get too close.

With respect to the Karens (and Karins) I’ve known throughout my life (I counted 9), all of them have been (and continue to be) kind, caring, empathic and thoughtful people. Like, exceptionally so. Statistically, at least one of those nine should be this stereotypical “Karen”… but no, not in my case. On the flip side, I know exactly 4 people with a different same name who are all, coincidentally, awful people – for their own, individual reasons. That’s also statistically off the charts.

This got me thinking, and I went off hunting for the origins of this whole Karen thing… but there’s no real answer; only speculation. It might be from a bit comedian Dane Cook did in 2005. It might be from a scene in “Mean Girls”. It might be from some Reddit thread where a guy continually complained about his ex-wife Karen, to the extent entire new SubReddits were created for the specific content.

Just like attaching “-gate” to something implies scandal… locally, we’ve had Bingogate, Ferrygate, Robogate, Tunagate… Chrétien had his Shawinigate… the world has created hundreds of -gates over the years… all spawned after Nixon’s Watergate scandal… now we have lots of different Karens.

There was an actual hurricane named Karen in 2019. There was an actual woman in Australia named Karen recorded trying to tear down her neighbour’s Aboriginal Flag. Other than that, it’s just a label:

Permit Karen who called police on her Black neighbours installing a patio.

Whitefish Karen, arrested after intentionally coughing on people after being told to wear a mask.

Kroger Karen, who stood in front of a Black woman’s car to block her from leaving a Detroit grocery store parking lot while she called police to report… that the woman’s child had stood on a shelf to take down an item too high to reach.

San Francisco Karen, who called the police to report a Filipino man stenciling “Black Lives Matter” on a retaining wall… on his own property.

Bunnings Karen, who threatened to sue the hardware store Bunnings for requiring her to wear a mask.

So prolific has the term become, it’s made its way to men as well; Donald Trump has been called the “Karen in Chief” and Elon Musk was labelled “Space Karen” after a stupid Tweet.

Endless Karens.

Back in July, Domino’s in Australia ran a campaign… offering free pizza to all the “nice Karens”. It went OK in Australia, but it faced backlash in New Zealand… where the campaign was pulled and Domino’s had to apologize. The campaign itself got “Karen’d”.

More recently, in October, San Francisco passed an act to prohibit the fabrication of racially-biased emergency reports. It was named the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act.

It looks like the whole Karen thing is here to stay… which is unfortunate, especially for all the people named Karen/Karin/Karyn/Caryn/Caren and whatever other spelling I may have missed. Shoutout to all of you… I’m sure you’re all awesome people.

Well… most of you. Unless you’re an actual Karen.

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December 29, 2020

It was nice to finally get some numbers to back-fill all the missing data; it’s been a while since it’s all looked complete, especially B.C. The last update we had around here before today’s was Dec 24th. The B.C. numbers look good, dropping down like that; it looks good on paper… but it likely implies less testing these days. If you’re planning to break the rules and get together with family, it’s probably better to stick your head in the sand. That’s better than going and getting a positive test and then knowingly violating the mandatory 14-day quarantine. It’s simply better to take the risk and hope for the best… and it’s that agnorant askholish behaviour that will unfortunately turn these numbers around in the coming days.

In the meantime, I’ve taken the opportunity to clean things up a bit, and add a very important row of data. You’ll notice the gray-shaded area up top… it’s now a bit clearer to read… a summary of totals for each region, with columns for: per million, percentage and delta (change since yesterday)… for cases, deaths, and… now, also… vaccinations.

That’ll be an interesting row of data to follow, especially the “% pop” number. In fact, it’s such an important number, I’ve highlighted it. Depending who you ask, you’ll get a different answer with respect to what’s needed for herd immunity. 50%? 70%? 90%? At what point are enough people vaccinated that we can stop worrying about it?

We have lots of time to discuss it, because we’re still far away. The U.S. has vaccinated 0.64% of its population; Canada is only at 0.19%. Broken down a bit more, B.C. itself is at 0.23% for our 5 million people. For comparison, Quebec leads the nation at 0.26% while Ontario has managed only 0.12%.

The one thing all of Canada has in common is that all of those numbers round to zero; it’s still very early, obviously… but whereas in the past we’ve all been rooting for numbers to go down (we still are, for all those numbers below the gray area…), at least now we can cheer for a number to go up… hopefully exponentially. Unfortunately, the only numbers likely to grow quickly in the next two weeks are those bad ones below… but that’s short-term. Keep an eye on those singular, highlighted numbers in the coming days, weeks and months… they are the beacons of light guiding the way out of this dark tunnel.

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December 28, 2020

Here’s an interesting fact that means nothing but is an interesting coincidence… the vast majority (ie. 49 out of 50) U.S. states are mostly south of us. South of what? The 49th parallel. Forty-nine states are south of the forty-ninth parallel. Yes, I’d never realized that. Yes, Puerto Rico would like a word with me. Yes, it’s spelled forty, not fourty… even north of the forty-ninth.

Comparisons to our neighbours (not neighbors) to the south get made all the time, and this pandemic is no exception. “At least it’s better here than in the states” is often heard, and it’s true… but that’s not a great comparison, because nobody on the planet is doing worse than the U.S.

But apples-to-apples, exactly how do we compare? Where would we fit in?

If you look at the daily new cases per million (DNCpM) of population for each particular state or province, here’s how it looks…

First of all, similar to how difficult it is for Canadian musicians to establish themselves in the American market, pandemically-speaking, we haven’t cracked the Top-40… not even close. If Quebec, our worst-performing province, were a U.S. state, it’d barely make the Top-50… being out-performed only by Washington, Oregon, Vermont & Hawaii.

The worst three states have DNCpMs that look like this:

California: 985

Tennessee: 927

Arizona: 800

North of the 49th, it’s this:

Quebec: 265

Alberta: 235

Saskatchewan: 152

For comparison, B.C. is 58

So… 50 states plus 10 provinces plus 3 territories… bundle them all together and what do you get? With the exception of a little bit of overlap in the 48 to 52 range, the U.S. occupies the entire top of the chart, and Canada, the bottom. You can literally draw a thick line through spot 49 and it would cleanly separate the two countries. Another interesting yet meaningless coincidence.

Except it’s not so meaningless… especially because while these numbers are an interesting snapshot today, they will soon change, possibly rather drastically as news arrives that the far-more contagious U.K. variant is here. We’re not exactly sure when it flew into town, though likely Dec. 15th… but it’s arrived, and undoubtedly the Boxing Day crowds (including the one-hour-plus lineups to get into the airport’s shopping mall) aren’t going to help things.

The numbers are expected to go up anyway, but this 70%-more-contagious curve-ball will likely affect the models. By how much…? Good question. We’ve talked about how it takes just one person… it was one person who flew in from the U.K. that brought it into B.C. It was one person who flew in from the U.K. and did not follow the quarantine protocol in Ontario and then gave it to a couple there. That’s all it takes, and now it spreads like wildfire.

Everyone is tired of hearing it… but, unfortunately, it’s true. Not following the simple rules has far-reaching consequences. This soon-to-be rapid spread… the one that that will unfortunately push Ontario and B.C. up the charts… is more than just coincidence.

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By |2020-12-28T17:03:34-08:00December 28th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |3 Comments

December 27, 2020

Here’s another word you may not have heard of… though it’s been very relevant this year, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The word is: Agnorant

Interestingly, the word has been around for a while… more than ten years. Somehow, I never heard it till recently… though I’ve been dealing with what it describes for a lot longer than that. We all have.

“Agnorant” is simply a combination of Arrogant and Ignorant… and wow, are there many examples, especially these days… and the primary topic-du-jour is vaccines, where, magically, thousands of people who’ve researched it (if research means sitting on the toilet scrolling through curated, nonsensical content) have decided they know more than real experts, and will happily and arrogantly shove down your throats the results of said research.

“Did you know the vaccine has mercury in it? Mercury is toxic… why would you knowingly inject yourself with something toxic?”

There’s a lot wrong with that statement, but just for fun, and especially if someone says that to you, here is the response:

“The mercury found in vaccines is in a compound called Thimerosal. Actually, the mercury component of that is itself a compound call ethylmercury… which the body has no problem eliminating quickly and efficiently. Unlike the mercury in fish, the accumulation of which can certainly be toxic, it’s not a concern in this case.

“But it still has mercury in it.”

“And table salt has Sodium, which on its own will kill you. And it has Chlorine, which on its own will kill you. But as a compound of Sodium Chloride, it’s salt. That’s the beauty of chemistry; they characteristics of elements change significantly when you combine them.”

“Yeah, that’s what they want you to think. That it’s safe, but I know it’s not. I read this whole thing about how Bill Gates is making billions off this vaccine. You’re just a brainwashed sheeple like the rest of them.”

“Sure. Also, the Covid-19 vaccines don’t have Thimerosal in them.”

“That’s what they want you to think.”

If you’re reading this carefully, perhaps you caught the moment where it turned the corner from rational discussion to all-out conspiracy nonsense. But either way, the Agnorance is there.

The comments sections below many of these posts have some excellent Agnorant content… but then again, and all comments sections these days can say the same.

It’s been written… “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – actually, the poem by Alexander Pope begins like this:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring”

In other words, either know what you’re talking about, or shut the hell up.

Oops… sorry. That probably came across a little bit… agnorant.

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December 26, 2020

Happy Boxing Day! Now that you’ve unboxed the gifts and boxed up the Christmas, you can relax… and hopefully Santa was good to you. Hopefully you got something meaningful that’ll last a long time; some gift that keeps on giving.

You know what’s an excellent gift that keeps on giving? It occurred to me while running up and down McDonald Beach with the dog… that great dog-beach near the airport.

The people who run the airport, the Vancouver Airport Authority, have never stopped charging the Airport Improvement Fee.

To backtrack a bit… back in the early 90s, YVR realized that with the projected passenger loads expected in the future, the airport was woefully undersized. Vast improvements were needed to deal with the post Expo’86 crowds… and the ever-increasing traffic to-and-from Asia. And they needed to get the money from that somewhere, because, believe it or not, the airport gets no government money.

So, they implemented a simple AIF… a little user-fee tax sort of thing. If you were flying out of YVR, you paid $5 to destinations within B.C, $10 within Canada and $15 everywhere else. These little kiosks popped-up, and you’d line up and wait and buy a little ticket that’d be collected when you went through security. A bit of grumbling ensued by an annoyed public who felt they were once-again getting shafted and wasting time.

Not soon after, they finally figured out how to integrate the AIF into the cost of an airline ticket. No more separate line-ups… it was all transparent. And, oh, how the money rolled in. Twenty million passengers a year times an average of ten dollars each equals a lot. More than $2 billion dollars and counting.

Where’s the money going? Well, it’s gone towards building the best airport in North America ten years in a row. A few years ago, some governing body voted it the best airport in the world. The fact is, whether it’s the new terminal, the new runway, the new outlet mall or just the quiet little museum piece you get to walk through if you land at one of those distant E-gates – the trees and birds and canoe on the water thing – it seems to be money very-well spent.

The AIF was supposed to be temporary but so was income tax during WW2. So were those ugly power-towers on Boundary, north of 1st Ave.

Income tax will never go away. Neither will those towers. And probably, neither will the AIF, and I’m totally ok with that. And by the way, the AIF has changed. Now it’s $5 for travel within B.C. and $25 for everywhere else. I’m totally ok with that too.

I guess that’s not really a gift that keeps on giving; it’s not a gift if it’s being extracted from you… but let’s call it a worthwhile extraction that keeps on giving… there’s a good random thought re Boxing Day, typically one of the busiest travel days of the year… but not when air traffic is down 90%. Maybe next year there will be more excitement on Boxing Day than just taking things out (and putting things back in) boxes.

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December 25, 2020

Some of you stuffed yourself full of turkey last night. Some, this afternoon. Some are about to.

Whatever your path to tryptophan overdose, that point when your brain reaches a state where you have to read something three times for it to sink in… ok, I won’t make you do that. Nothing too deep today, just a simple observation… starting with the fact that there are no new numbers to report today. It’s Christmas, of course, and no one is working. Well, curiously, not totally true. Some guy in New Brunswick showed up to work… to report one new case. And that’s all we know, across the entire country. Half the U.S. isn’t reporting either… so, no numbers there either… just annoying yellow boxes till I sort it all out over the next few days… and I’ll back-fill what I can… though who knows what that’ll look like as it’s also the weekend. By next Tuesday, we’ll see where we’re at, and a week after that, we’ll really start seeing where things stand.

But, for the moment, numbers don’t lie… and the graphs reflect that. West of Ontario, the significant efforts being made are making a notable difference. Like I said, we won’t know what it all looks like till the after-effects of the holidays pan out, but this at least is like… well, to put it in Canadian terms, heading into the third period with a one-goal lead. A month ago, at the start of the second period, we were down a few goals… nice comeback. It doesn’t mean we’ve won, but we’ve got some momentum. Let’s hope it carries through to the end of the game. It could be a scrappy third.

Happy turkey recovery! And there’s no hockey to watch, but a nap right about now sounds pretty good…

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December 24, 2020

For all my friends who are celebrating Christmas tonight and tomorrow… may it be happy and joyous and merry and… well, I won’t say memorable… because that’s a given.

I think my Christmas wish for everyone is that next year’s Christmas be as similar as possible to last year’s. And, as far as this year is concerned — and much that came with it… may it one day be nothing more than a distant memory that we can look back upon and smile and be grateful for what we presently have.

This year, everything that’s usually been “a given” and was suddenly taken away has come with the obvious silver lining; you don’t appreciate it till it it’s gone. After that, when it comes back, it’s a lot more meaningful.

This year, there are many empty seats around what would be the usual big Christmas get-togethers. Next year, those seats will be filled… more than anything, with tremendous appreciation for what that represents.

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By |2020-12-24T17:03:01-08:00December 24th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , |8 Comments

December 23, 2020

So… today I got vaccinated. But no – once again, not *that* vaccine. This was the good old-fashioned flu shot which, for some reason, I hadn’t managed to get around to this year… yet.

If you think it’s too late in the season, it’s not. If you think it’s not worth it, it is. If you think it’s too risky, it’s not.

With respect to the *other* vaccine, a lot of people have been vaccinated recently… Joe Biden, Dr. Henry… and a whole bunch of Republicans who spent a long time telling us how this is all overblown, open things up, it’s just a bad flu, it’s low-risk to most people. Those despicable hypocrites are happily tweeting their vaccinations… leading people to ask a lot of questions, including why are they getting their shots ahead of other more elderly or at-risk front-line workers. Because they’re important leaders, of course… we want to make sure they’re protected!

Joe Biden, for numerous reasons should get it, and publicly. He’s the soon-to-be president, he’s in the risky age category, and he’s in contact with a lot of people. Dr. Henry should have gotten it too, because she was going to get slagged either way… if she doesn’t get it, it generates mistrust… why isn’t she getting it if it’s so safe?!?! And if she does, why does she get to jump the queue.

By far, the lesser of those two evils is take it, set the example, and move on.

Canada today approved the Moderna vaccine… an approval process which normally would have taken weeks took hours. Close to 200,000 doses will have arrived before the end of the month. Two million more before the end of March.

The more, the merrier. The more people who get it, the better. The sooner they all do, perhaps the sooner a lot of people who are waiting around to see that things will be ok can be convinced that indeed that’s the case… and then we are all one step closer to putting all of this behind us.

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December 22, 2020

Here’s a great word to add to your vocabulary, if you already haven’t done so: Askhole

An askhole is someone who asks for advice, listens to it, does the complete opposite, and then complains when things go wrong. They just seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days.

In some cases, the advice wasn’t explicitly asked for… but you’re told – don’t travel, essential travel only, don’t go to the U.K, and so on. There were many non-essential travelers stuck on the Coquihalla last night, who this morning are whining about their misfortune. There are Canadians who flew to London last week who are now whining they can’t come home.

The King of the Askholes is the man who’ll be president of the U.S. for another 28 days. He’s the biggest askhole of all, because he actually keeps asking for advice, and then shuts down the people giving him responses he doesn’t want to hear. Then he asks other people, hoping for a different result. The Latin term for his species is Askholo Perpetuo.

As a result of Trump’s askholish behaviour in recent weeks, his inner circle has shrunk to a tiny number of soon-to-be footnotes, but a lot can happen in four weeks when you’re arguably the most powerful man on the planet.

This all came to a bit of a head over the weekend where an Oval Office meeting resulted in some staffers running to the phones to contact the press. After a lot of screaming by the president, it got scary when he starting asking for advice on how exactly to go about establishing martial law in a few specific states. That sent the sane people fleeing for the hills.

Intelligent people don’t listen to, nor feed, the askholes. But even better, don’t be an askhole. And if you’re an askhole, don’t whine. If you’re mature enough to ask for advice, and to listen to replies, you’re certainly mature enough to understand that if things don’t go your way, it’s your responsibility. Unless you’re the president; then it’s apparently everyone else’s fault.

Tomorrow is the last day before the Christmas trifecta of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. And this trifecta is locked in, because the horses have already left the gate; I’m pretty sure everyone already has set in stone their plans for those three days. It’ll be sad to see the numbers rise, because they’re relatively stable these days; flat or better across the country.

That’ll change… and I’m not here to tell you what to do or what not to do. But I would ask that you don’t act all shocked and surprised as a result… stuck on the highway in a snowstorm? Stuck in the U.K? Stuck with a positive test… you and your family? Unfortunate. But don’t whine. Don’t say you couldn’t possibly have seen it coming. Don’t be an askhole.

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By |2020-12-22T17:03:01-08:00December 22nd, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|Tags: , , , , , |16 Comments
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