October 31, 2020

Halloween on a Saturday night – that used to be the ideal as a young adult… get all dressed up in outrageous costumes and party all night and have Sunday to recover. So much so, that when Halloween fell on a weeknight, it was always a dilemma… which weekend, before or after, for the “big” party?

Well, 2020 sorted that out nicely… number one, the parties are tonight, and number two, there are no parties. Or, there shouldn’t be. Or, they should be outdoors, if anything. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful day, and turning into a beautiful evening, around here; gather outside (safely) to your hearts’ content. This will be the last year to enjoy fireworks (legally) – I’m tempted to go out and load up on some serious artillery, perhaps one last gasp of memories from many years ago when we’d do epic fireworks… the sort where, with a friend, we’d have them all laid out, with a synchronized sequence and Pink Floyd blaring in the background; fireworks so epic we’d be finding remnant litter (those little carton tubes and pieces of plastic) 6 months later in the garden somewhere.

Here’s my bold prediction…. by this time next year, it’ll all be back to normal. But I will throw in a little caveat that’ll be sure to bother some people… it *could* be back to normal *if* everyone buys into the solutions, both present and forthcoming.

As I find myself discussing these solutions, these days often with strangers, I’m going to throw out there a few questions… and if you can answer “that’s me” to any of these, I’d genuinely like to hear from you – because I’m gathering opinions and their origins… and I’d like to try to understand your mindset.

Are you anti-vaxx but think masks are a good idea?

Are you pro-vaxx but think masks are unnecessary?

Have you and/or your kids been vaccinated, but you’re considering not taking the C19 vaccine when it becomes available?

Have you never been vaccinated, but would consider the C19 vaccine when it becomes available?

Feel free to reply publicly and/or feel free to PM directly. Neither I nor anyone else will ridicule or belittle you; quite the opposite. I am really interested in hearing diametrically opposed opinions, and I’d like to discuss them.

The more “out there” these writings reach, the more I hear from people whose opinions make me think, “How can you possibly think that? How did you actually reach that conclusion?”. And I’m now well-aware that those are the exact same questions they’re asking of me.

I’m happy to provide my evidence and thought process. Feel free to let me (us) know yours.

(notitle)

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October 30, 2020

You’ll notice below that I’ve added Saskatchewan to the numbers and graphs. While their absolute numbers aren’t looking too bad, their trend isn’t great… and, unfortunately, they’ll soon be a relevant part of the national picture. But what’s worse is that they’re sandwiched between Alberta and Manitoba, and looking at how things are going in those two places, it’s starting to turn that corner from concerning to frightening.

Let’s recap a bit, starting with the fact that a Covid-19 infection takes up to two weeks to kick in, and that Thanksgiving in Canada was a couple of weeks ago. What effect was there from everyone who somehow thinks they’re above getting sick or being infectious or “having their freedom taken away”? To hell with this hoax, it’s just a flu, it’s just the government trying to control us, etc etc. Let’s get together and celebrate; it’s no big deal.

Listen… I don’t mind being that guy, the one that you consider to be nagging or preaching or whatever. Standing on my little soapbox, inciting panic by spewing the government lies. Telling you what to do like I’m holier than thou. Maybe that’s the way you see it.

I really don’t care how you view this message… but, to be clear, I’m no different than you – I can get just as sick and infectious as anyone else. I’m trying hard to avoid becoming either of those things, but, evidently, many of you are not trying as hard. Here it is again, in the plainest English possible: if you don’t wear a mask when you should, and if you don’t socially distance, and if you don’t wash your hands and sanitize and do everything you’ve heard 1,000 times from everyone around you that understands the implications of not doing so, this thing will spread. And it will spread exponentially. And we will *all* suffer as a result.

Last three days in Alberta: +410, +477, +622
Last three days in Manitoba: +169, +193, +480

Winnipeg will soon be starting a full-on lockdown; shutting it all down till this can once again be brought under control. The tipping point is unfortunately near, with ICUs at over 90%. When you spill past 100%, that’s where you have patients in hallways, in lobbies and out in the street, dying. Listen to first-hand accounts from ER doctors… pleas of despair from places like Italy, Spain and New York, when that’s what happened. And that was in the spring… let’s not try to imagine what this looks like when it’s 25 below zero… as it’ll be in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg in the not-too-distant future. Yes, in the past, this was far away… the other side of the Pacific, then the other side of the Atlantic, then south of the border. It is now knocking on the door… “it” being the point of no return.

Sure, call me alarmist. Feel free to point fingers back at me and laugh in a few months when the world didn’t fall apart. Don’t worry, I can take it. And, if in any small way, getting this message out actually helped prevent that emerging disaster, great. I guess we’ll never know; I don’t care. I’ll happily join in your mask-burning bonfires, happily admitting I was wrong… even if perhaps I wasn’t. But that’s not the point… the point is, we can’t afford to be wrong in the other direction.

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October 29, 2020

An excellent scene in one of my favourite movies, “The Princess Bride” involves one guy continually using the word “inconceivable” … and another guy eventually saying to him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

But the word we’re going to discuss isn’t that one… the word of the day is “freedom”.

Americans seem to think they have a monopoly on “freedom”. Hey guys… up here – we’re free too, you know. In fact, of the 206 recognized sovereign nations, the vast majority are also free.

On the list of countries that are not so free, you’ll find places like China, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela… places that are perpetually in the news, often for the wrong reasons, and that’s why perhaps we never hear about the rest of the world. Uruguay? Bulgaria? Mongolia? They all have their own problems to navigate, like any other sovereign nation… but their people are free, by whatever definition you want to apply. But perhaps since the U.S. isn’t meddling in their affairs, you never hear about them.

Somewhere along the line, the meaning of “freedom” has lost its way, especially by those who’ve never experienced the lack thereof. Anyone who’s been born and lived all their lives in the U.S. (and Canada), no matter how old they are, has never lived under a government that didn’t offer them freedom. Yet even today, more than half the world’s population lives without the basic freedoms we all take for granted.

It’s hard to put it in terms for people who’ve never experienced it, so let’s compare it to something relatable.

I’m old enough to remember well when smoking was ubiquitous. Ten-hour airplane flights so full of smoke you couldn’t even see the screen of the movie playing 20 rows ahead. Tiny no-smoking areas in restaurants, if any. Everyone smoked back then, whether directly or second-hand.

When smoking bans were proposed, there was a huge uprising… and the word freedom was thrown around a lot. It’s my right, it’s my freedom, all the bullshit arguments you can imagine. And it goes back to what I said yesterday; nobody wants to infringe on anyone’s rights. You want to smoke at home? As long as the smoke doesn’t bleed into someone else’s space, go right ahead. You want to smoke alone in the middle of nowhere, go right ahead. You want to smoke in a crowded boardroom because it relaxes you and helps you gather your thoughts? Too bad. Because what you feel you’re entitled to is not as important as other people’s health and comfort. Go outside.

Yes, you will be inconvenienced and perhaps feel offended… but everything about that situation is up to you. You are free to make those choices. And if you still want to scream about rights and freedoms, perhaps a little history lesson… or perhaps, just a present-day history lesson… of people who can’t leave where they are, can’t say what they want to say, aren’t free to participate in the religion or partnership they wish to pursue. *That* is a lack of freedom. Not you having to step outside to smoke where it doesn’t bother anyone else. There’s no issue of freedom there. That’s just part of living in a civilized society that’s decided that the harm inflicted by cigarette smoke is not something anyone has the right to impose on someone else.

Similarly, can we just cut the crap with masks and freedom? It’s not the end of your world to act responsibly for the benefit of us all. You’re not being deprived of some fundamental right, unless you feel that putting others at risk is something to which you’re entitled. This is temporary and this is necessary.

I’m well aware that there are people who’ll read this and still not get it, tossing aside the science and common sense. So just get this…. shut the hell up already with claiming someone is infringing on your rights. Nobody is making you wear a mask when it’s not called for. Smoke at home. Cough and sneeze at home to your heart’s content. But while there’s a virus going around that threatens us all, simply do your part. If you’re around other people, do what’s asked… or, just don’t be around other people.

See how easy that is? You *are* free – free to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with someone else’s basic rights. I have the right not to inhale your cigarette smoke. I have the right not to inhale your Covid-19. I would hope for most people, this is pretty clear… though I’m also very clear that for a lot of people, this is… inconceivable.

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October 28, 2020

Many years ago, I was standing on the southwest corner of Georgia & Burrard, waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street (to the east) towards the Hotel Vancouver. There was a car sitting next to me, on my left, waiting to turn right, onto Burrard.

And while I was standing there waiting, the woman in the passenger seat contemptuously flicked out her still-smoldering cigarette, which landed right next to my foot.

The sheer disregard and selfishness of that action got to me in that instant. I simply reached down and threw it back in the car, helpfully adding, “I think you dropped this.”

Just as I did that, the light turned green, so I proceeded to cross the street, without even looking back. The car was stuck there, waiting for the stream of pedestrians to cross, so it didn’t move. But I did hear her shriek from behind me. I heard the driver screaming at me, too… “Hey!! What the f#@&!!”

The guy blared his horn a few times too, no doubt scaring and upsetting the pedestrians in front of him. I heard more yelling, but, as I said, didn’t turn around so didn’t really see what else may have happened. There was no sudden explosion, so I suppose it all turned out ok.

If that happened today, I’m not sure I’d do the same thing… it seems reckless. On the other hand, the blatant selfish entitlement displayed by that woman deserves some sort of response. “I’m going to smoke right next to you, I’m going to litter right in front of you, I’m going to throw something on fire at your feet… and I couldn’t care less about what you or anyone else thinks.” It’s brutal.

The usual saying is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but I prefer a slightly different version: “Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you” – it’s a subtle (but very important) difference… which is that as long as what someone else is doing doesn’t affect you, leave them alone. You don’t want people telling you what to do when it’s none of their business, right? So respectfully… do the same for them. Either way, don’t impose your actions or beliefs on those who aren’t interested.

Which leads us to masks, and let’s set-aside the politically-attached nonsense that goes along with them. This is Canada, and there’s no political party implying that masks are a bad idea. And since around here we actually like listening to what scientists have to say – and they also happen to agree – let’s just go with the generally accepted proven fact that masks are a good idea.

If you are spewing cigarette smoke in my face (not to mention discarding its lit “delivery device” at my feet), let’s agree that it’s an offensive way to disrespect my personal space. Flip it around; even if you smoke, do you want someone blowing smoke in your face?

If that’s not ok, then why would potentially imposing your Covid-19 breath-droplets on someone else be ok? If you’re not wearing a mask while everyone else around you is, think about the message you’re projecting. It’s narcissism at its most fundamental level. Your “so what” and “who cares” attitude normally wouldn’t matter. As per above, if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care.

Except, of course, in this case… it *does* affect me. Potentially quite drastically, whether me personally, or those around me who may be more vulnerable.

Dr. Bonnie is very gentle in her messaging. Be kind, be calm, etc. But I’m not Dr. Bonnie and I’m not so kind and calm, so I’ll put it in my own words: Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a self-centered, entitled jerk. Don’t be a disrespectful clown who thinks they’re so awesome, flaunting their individual freedoms… at the expense of everyone else.

Yeah, on second thought… I’d totally throw that cigarette back into the car, onto her lap… if for no other reason than because not doing so empowers her belief that that sort of behaviour is OK. It’s not. It affects everyone around her. Sort of like not wearing a mask.

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October 27, 2020

The unfortunate truth these days is that there’s just too much to write about. Around here, numbers spiraling upwards. Down south, in a week, they go to the polls… and, to a great extent, just in time. I had a quick look at the headlines-du-jour, looking for something appetizing that I could sink my teeth into… but you know, never bite off more than you can chew… and for some reason, today… it just looks overwhelming. Some of it looks tasty, but there’s too much, and after eating so much of this over the last little while, I think I’ve had enough for now. Here’s a news story that looks as appetizing as a plate of nachos, the melted cheese still steaming, the salsa… the chilled sour cream… and a frothy Guinness sitting next to it… but I’ll pass.

The exhaustion leading up to this final stretch… and now, this last week… looks like the last 100 yards of a marathon… and I’m not talking about the Kenyan guy who just ran it in 2:09 and could probably go another 10 miles… I’m talking about the guy who decided 3 months ago to train for a marathon… and managed to survive running 15 miles last weekend, and now just decided to go for it… you know that look, the middle-aged over-weight guy, bald but with a headband anyway, wobbling his way over the finish line in over 6 hours and collapsing in a heap… that’s the way we’re all going to look and feel in a week. And that’s just us Canadians… our poor American friends to the south… well, it’ll be a long recovery.

And anyway, we have ourselves to worry about. This country just went over 10,000 in C19 deaths. As bad as that sounds (and, it is) – that’s less than how many people have died in the U.S. since Oct 14th… and those are the curated numbers; the reality is unfortunately higher.

There’s a one-week finish line to the U.S. election. There’s also a more-distant finish line to this marathon of a pandemic… and we’re definitely on that last, killer hill. Eventually it plateaus and there’s a nice, gentle downhill to the finish. Unfortunately, like the marathon guy whose face is so drenched in sweat that not even the headband can do its job properly, we can’t really see where we are right now, nor how much is left to go. But we plug ahead in the right direction because eventually we’ll get there. And when that guy finally crosses the finish line, I hope he treats himself to that tasty plate of nachos and a beer; he deserves it. We all do.

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By |2020-10-27T20:50:43-07:00October 27th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Humour|Tags: , , , , , , |5 Comments

October 26, 2020

The “politicization” of Covid-19 is really quite interesting to observe. Perhaps the right word is “weaponized” – with the U.S. being the best example. Forget the reality of it; there will one day be “Covid denial” – it’ll be something that “maybe didn’t really happen”, was “exaggerated”, was “fabricated” for “sympathy” or “political gain”… the same nonsense every other flavour of denier likes to preach.

The discussion in the U.S. that’s now appearing is puzzling when based on reality, but perfectly in-line with the paragraph above… that, given that C19 is a political fabrication, invented to damage the presidency of Donald Trump, as soon as the election is over, it’ll all just go away. Win or lose, the whole pandemic will have served its purpose.

Of course, after November 3rd, and continuing into the future, long after all the ballots have been cast, guess what… C19 will still be here, numbers will be surging, and people will keep dying. I wonder what the deniers will have to say after that. Actually, there’s no need to wonder; we can just assume it’ll be as confusing and misguided as what we’re hearing now.

So, let’s ignore the complete bullshit, and talk a bit about the more subtle bullshit. The White House Chief of Staff, twice now, has basically admitted that there’s no plan to control the pandemic. This is not really news, though it’s nice and surprising to hear some honesty so close to the source of misinformation itself. Unlike his boss, Mark Meadows isn’t saying it’s getting better. That it’s turned the corner. That it’ll be over soon. That the vaccine is just around the corner.

No – none of that. All he’s said, and doubled-down on, is this: “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”

To put it in different terms, what he’s saying is this: “We have been lying for a while, knowing full-well that the messaging and actions we’ve put out are not going to work, and never would have, especially given the polarized electorate we have today… so, we chose to lie, and paint a rosy picture… long enough to get re-relected. We know a lot of people will die as a result – deaths that could have been avoided. But, it’s more important to us to get re-elected, and if enough people are sold on the idea that we’ll have a vaccine sooner than later, we should be ok. And one day, we will… so… ”

The extension of this polarization will yield two camps of future thought; I’ve summarized one of them. The summary for the other school of thought is more simple: they will claim Trump and his administration should all be charged and tried for Crimes Against Humanity. They will have a good point.

Closer to home, the vaccine isn’t a hoax around here either… and we have numbers to prove it. The weekend update was nothing short of ugly. New measures will be put in place limiting crowd sizes, as we slowly slide backwards and see higher and higher numbers.

We’re certainly on the upswing…. but how far up will it go? I won’t attempt to predict the future, but looking at the numbers and graphs, you might be tempted to think that Quebec is flattening out their curve… and they’re perhaps three weeks ahead of us… so is it fair to think we are in for three more weeks of frightening growth before it flattens out? Depends how well we mitigate that risk. As usual, it’s up to us.

Three weeks from now is just after the Remembrance Day Weekend… hopefully that weekend update isn’t as startling as this one.

(notitle)

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October 25, 2020

Like the NDP in B.C., COVID-19 is back for a 2nd term… and it’s more powerful than the first.

I’ve added a new series of graphs… these are a subset of the graphs above them, and plotted logarithmically… starting at a good guess with respect to the beginning of Canada’s 2nd wave – right after Labour Day.

Since they’re logarithmic, they tend to squash the numbers… but that’s useful, because it tells you at a glance when the growth has stopped… like when the new-case numbers are linear, not exponential. Indeed, if you look at Quebec, the bad news is that they’re getting 1,000 new cases a day. The good news is that those numbers have been steady for a couple of weeks. Don’t get me wrong, 1,000 cases a day isn’t great, but it’s far, far better than the implication of seeing those numbers continuing to rise sharply.

Which brings us to everyone else… where, across the board, every other province is edging upwards. That part is expected. How steep and how long… that remains to be seen. We’ll see what B.C. and Alberta – and therefore, the national picture — looks like tomorrow.

October 25, 2020

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https://www.facebook.com/kemeny.ca/posts/10157907072322481

October 24, 2020

No local numbers today or tomorrow… so no speculative guesses either. If the last few days are any indication, things are going to get worse before they improve… but in the meantime, why don’t we just enjoy this incredible weather… it’s a beautiful day to be outside, and if you’re wondering where to walk, might I suggest your nearest polling station to go vote, if you haven’t already done so.

Instead of fully-updated numbers and graphs (the partial one is here, if you’re interested), here’s a video of my dog fetching a frisbee… with some spectacular views of blue skies and the ocean thrown in for good measure.

Words: of some value
Picture: a thousand words
This video: priceless

In the midst of “the worst is yet to come”, there’s always some beauty to be found.

(notitle)

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By |2020-10-26T20:17:07-07:00October 24th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Follower Favourites, Our Dog|Tags: |5 Comments

October 23, 2020

Last night’s debate was a lot more sane than anyone might have imagined. Kudos to the moderator, who did a far better job than anyone else has in previous debates.

Donald Trump, in poker terms, is down to the felt… the meager chips he has left were waiting for an opportunity to go all-in, and that’s what he attempted last night. Unfortunately for him, the hand he flipped over wasn’t too good. How it plays out remains to be seen.

Civility aside, the debate offered more lies than usual. Biden was off on a few points, but Trump was on a whole other level. We’re used to it from Trump, but that doesn’t mean we should let it slide. I’m not one of these people who usually screams at TVs or during movies, but I did find myself yelling “That’s bullshit!” or “That’s not true!” more than a few times.

Donald Trump doesn’t quite understand how ridiculous he sounds when he blames the high case counts on the fact that they’re doing a lot of testing… too much testing…more testing than anyone in the world, he claims… which isn’t actually true. On tests-per-million-of-population, the U.S. trails behind countries like Singapore, Denmark, Israel and Britain, to name just a few.

But that’s far from the point… because the logical conclusion of that nonsensical line of thinking would be to just not test at all – and then, like magic, no more cases… problem solved! In presidential terms, Mission AccomplishedTM – but it’s just not true, no matter how hard Trump claims it to be the case. It hasn’t just rounded the corner. It’s not almost gone. Things aren’t weeks away from being back to normal.

Indeed, his “It’s not so bad” claims are a little contrary to his “I’ve saved millions of lives with my actions” statements – neither of which are even remotely true.

Yes, it’s bad – how bad is it? Since the White House took over the numbers, it’s all a bit suspect. Case counts go down, but deaths (numbers not entirely in their control) don’t go down. Let’s ignore the case counts and go right to the guts of the matter.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics… The White House is reporting 229,000 deaths due to C19. Recent numbers released by those independent parties adding up the dead have found 300,000 excess deaths up to now, the vast majority of which can only be related to C19. That’s an under-representation of 24%.

This isn’t a trivial “What if” question to be answered, but let’s make it as easy as possible: What does Canada’s C19 response look like, mapped onto the U.S. population?

The math is pretty simple. Canada has seen 260 out of every million people die of C19. The U.S. number is 691 deaths per million. And if you map that 260 onto the U.S. population, you get 86,300 deaths… instead of 300,000 (or 229,000, if you go by the strictly defined death count).

Either way, that’s a range of 143,000 to 214,000… so let’s call it somewhere in between: 178,000 Americans… that’s about how many have needlessly died up to this point, thanks to the president’s refusal to mandate masks, enforce lockdowns, and impose social distancing and responsible behaviour.

He couldn’t bring himself last night to admit he’s wrong, and why would he? It’d be admitting he’s been wrong for a very long time. Easier to blame everyone else. And for those who still feel they’ll be voting for Trump, I think it’s now the same sort of thing; if you admit you’re wrong now, there’s some version of you that needs to admit you’ve been wrong all along… and hey, perhaps you’ve never felt you’re wrong and never will. No worries; nobody is trying (or able) to change your mind.

But there are a lot of those undecideds out there trying to make heads or tails of it all… and it looks like this election may come down to what they ultimately decide. If nothing else, perhaps it’s best to go with the guy who lies less. A lot less.

October 23, 2020

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October 22, 2020

A couple of days ago, Donald Trump gave an interview to 60 Minutes. A couple of people, just sitting down for an interview. One was articulate and well-prepared. The other was not.

It didn’t go well for Trump, because Leslie Stahl pressed him on questions to which she wanted answers, and his constant deflection, and then bringing up irrelevant topics, did not deter her. A couple of times, it devolved to “You’re lying, no I’m not, yes you are, no I’m not.” Trump wasn’t happy, and eventually stormed out, like the kid taking his soccer ball and going home, claiming nobody ever passes it to him.

A couple of hours ago, Trump posted the 37-minute raw footage of that interview onto Facebook. A couple of minutes ago, I finished watching it… and, while still fresh on my mind, here are a couple of thoughts about it.

First of all, there was nothing unexpected. Trump interrupted and deflected and made things up – his usual. It troubles me that a lot of people will see this as a “win” for him – Donald just being Donald, Donald not caving to the evil fake news media, and so on. What’s troubling is everyone who still thinks this is ok presidential behaviour. It’s far from it, but four years of it has jaded us all. Half of the people are like, “RahRahRah Go Trump MAGA!!!” and the other half are resigned to “This is just how it is, for now.” Neither should be acceptable, but here we are.

Tonight, it will be another couple of people who will sit down to “discuss”, when Trump and Joe Biden will sit down in the last presidential debate before the election. The moderator will have a “mute” button at their disposal, but I’m not entirely sure how that might play out. Trump’s mic might get cut, but that won’t stop him from continuing his extemporaneous (adj. spoken or done without preparation; impromptu) bullshit. It might be disjointed and difficult to watch, even more than last time. And let’s remember, this is his last hurrah. His last stand, his last opportunity to make an impression. This is the last round of a long and bitter boxing match, and Trump is behind on points. He needs a knockout, and he will come out swinging wildly and relentlessly. It will be an ugly couple of hours.

In a couple of days, we here in B.C. go to the polls. I sincerely don’t care for whom you vote… but I’d really like it if you did. Stick with what you believe… and put an X next to it.

In a couple of weeks, the U.S. goes to the polls. I’m neither an American citizen nor a U.S. resident, so you’d think I wouldn’t care. Maybe I should care about it as much as some farmer in Nebraska cares about whether it’s Horgan or Wilkinson.

Yet… I do care, for more than a couple of reasons… but since I’m trying to keep these columns down to a couple of minutes, we’ll have to pick it back up in the future. Maybe in a couple of days.

October 22, 2020

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