May 31, 2021

Well… that was a fun little contest. We will do it again in future for sure.

Shout-out to the two extremes…

The pessimist award goes to Lyn Garnier’s guess of 1,123.
The optimist award goes to Larry Lacoursiere’s guess of 362

Also, shout-outs to the “pretty-close” club:

Nicky Owers’ guess of 699 missed by 9
Denise Praill’s guess of 714 missed by 6
Cadence Jensen’s guess of 807 had all the right digits… backwards.

So… congrats to Andy Sellars – whose guess of 712 missed the actual 3-day total (258+238+212) of 708 by only 4.

To put these numbers in context… this is the best weekend we’ve had since October, and that linear descent continues to hold. I’m sure it’ll tail off eventually, at some point, but for now… it looks very good. If this continues, we’d be down to single-digit case counts by the third week of June. Who knows… all of this is certainly being helped by the fact that we just crossed a significant milestone… more than 3,000,000 B.C. individuals have had at least one dose.

Andy, well done! Please let me know your worthy charity of choice.

And the rest of you, sharpen your pencils and/or clear your spreadsheets; we’ll do it again next week.

By |2021-05-31T17:03:09-07:00May 31st, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , |5 Comments

May 30, 2021

The last little contest that I held was to guess where on earth, literally, that remnant Chinese rocket was going to hit. The result of that was no human deaths, but a $100 donation to a Search & Rescue team on the island.

Let’s do this again… with, this time, little chance of anyone getting clobbered by space junk.

You’ve heard me say for more than who-knows-how-many consecutive weekends… “No B.C. numbers to report, so we’ll wait for tomorrow…”

So… let’s make some good of it… here’s the contest:

Give me your best guess as to the total weekend numbers… new daily case counts for Saturday, Sunday and Monday combined… and, whoever is closest will win $100… donated, in their name, to their charity of choice.

To help you guess a little, here are the last several Sat-Sun-Mon totals:

May 22,23,24: 974
May 15,16,17: 1,360
May 8,9,10: 1,759
May 1,2,3: 2,174
Before that: 2,729

That’s a good-looking trend; may it continue.

Fire off your guesses and good luck – contest entries will be accepted till noon tomorrow.

By |2021-05-30T17:07:36-07:00May 30th, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , |45 Comments

May 29, 2021

OK… the bad news is we didn’t win 65 million dollars. The good news is that nobody else did either, so we get to take another crack at it… this time, with a few more days to grind through the numbers and some new ideas… which might lower the chances from one in 33 million to something a little more reasonable. To put that in context, your chances of getting a blood clot from a C19 vaccine are about 100x greater… and those chances are exceedingly remote already… to the extent that your chances of getting hit by lightning in your lifetime are 200x greater than a C19-vaccine blood clot. Yeah, you read that right. Still worried?

For those assuring me there’s no rational way to predict the lottery, you’re almost certainly right, but I don’t mind telling you what I’m trying to do here… which is to find some tangible edge, if it exists.

For example… let’s briefly talk about Roulette; the casino game where there’s a wheel, with the numbers 1 to 36 on it, as well as a zero, and often (in the American version), a double-zero. Except for the zeroes, half the numbers are red, the other half black. Half are even, half are odd. Half are 1-18, half are 19-36. If you bet a dollar on any of those, you’ll double your money if you’re right. But if you want to win the real money, you have to bet on numbers straight up… where a 37-1 chance pays 35-1.

Here’s an unusual talent of mine; if you give me any number on an American roulette wheel, I can instantly give you the three numbers to either side of it. Like, 32…? 5 7 11 17 20 22 32… and I can bet them all straight-up in about two seconds. I realize this is less impressive in writing; when this is all over, let’s head to the casino and I’ll show you how to win at roulette… maybe.

The maybe has to do with whether the wheel, at that moment, is truly random or not… and usually it is. But, once in a while, especially near the end of a long day, it may be a bit off. A bit of humidity is slowing down part of it, or maybe there’s some dust that’s accumulated on a particular spot, causing the ball to “bite”, right at that point. Whatever the reason, it may temporarily be not so random.

Conveniently, these days, there’s an electronic board showing you the last 20 numbers that have come up. It often looks like a completely random jumble of numbers; like, true randomness. But… if you know what you’re looking at… let’s say you see 22 11 32 7 5 17 as the last 6 numbers. As per above, you’d instantly know those numbers are all in a tight, specific section of the wheel… and so you sit down and you hammer that area of the weel — straight up. Often, it’s not so obvious… but if five of the last ten numbers are all on the same pie-slice of the wheel, it’s a big opportunity.

That is how I play Roulette, and that is how I’m trying to approach the lottery.

There are 49 ping-pong balls of equal weight that bounce around randomly, and then 7 are chosen. All things being equal, it’s totally random. But what if some of those balls are slightly heavier or lighter? What if, by the design of the way the balls are dropped in the tumbler, some generally stay closer to the hopper?

I’m sure everything is checked often, but let’s say recently a few balls picked up some dust… making them likelier (or less likely) to come up. Or some calibration is a little out of whack.

I really don’t know the mechanics of it, but I’m studying the frequency of numbers that have come up recently… and comparing it to, historically, whether these sorts of patterns emerge from time to time. It’s interesting to note that numbers that end in 1 seem to come up more often. A 31 on its own is one thing, but 1, 11, 21 and especially 31… have a degree of consistency that others don’t. Not sure how significant that is, and 4,000 draws out of a potential 33 million doesn’t make much of a dent in “the big picture”. But anyway, that’s what I’m doing… trying to figure out what numbers are likeliest to come up these days… and then coupling that with, historically, what numbers are likeliest to come up together with those likelier numbers… like, if I think 31 is going to come up, what else is likeliest to show up? With that, I’m generating sets of numbers… and that’s what I’ll… uhh… “invest”. Stay tuned…

May 28, 2021

What you read here is often thought up while I’m lost in thought, riding my bike… and today, I started by thinking about this crazy anti-vaxxer who decided to drive her car through a vaccination tent set-up in a parking lot in Tennessee. Fortunately, nobody was hurt… but there were plenty of near-misses. I was pondering from which angle to approach that – and there are many – and was specifically thinking about how some people are just assholes, plain and simple… and while having that illuminating thought, the following happened…

I was cycling on the seawall, near English Bay, heading west… somewhere between the Burrard Bridge and Cactus Club… it’s a nice stretch of road between BB and CC these days – a whole street lane dedicated for bikes. As such, there is plenty of room for two-way bike traffic… and what I saw was a guy on a bike, coming towards me. There was also a Canada Goose sitting on the street, right next to the curb. This guy had plenty of room to go by… enough room that he had to make an extra effort to stick out his right leg and kick the bird as he went by. This happened about 20 feet in front of me. The goose wasn’t seriously hurt… it just squawked and fluttered a bit. But I slammed on the brakes and yelled after him… I guess what one would call a declarative sentence – like “Have a nice day!” – except that’s not what I said. He barely slowed down and didn’t look back; just held up one solitary finger as he rode off into the distance. Seriously, what an asshole.

I resumed my ride now trying to figure out where the overlap of assholes might fit into what I have to say; what does a psycho-anti-vaxxer have in common with a guy who kicks an innocent bird for no reason?

The quick conclusion I came to is that I’ve already wasted enough time thinking about these pieces of crap… so we’ll leave it at that.

Moments later, I saw a sign that announced that tonight’s Lotto Max is up to $65 million… so I started thinking about how I might analyze previous draws, and try to use that to predict future ones. Turns out there’s 4,000 draws of historical data to analyze, and that’s what I’m doing right now… potentially far more rewarding than writing about assholes. With some intelligent analysis, I might reduce the odds of winning from a gazillion to one to just one in a zillion.

So… on that note… I’m going to get back to it now… still a few hours before the draw… wish me luck… and if you’ve read this far, tell you what… if I win $65 million dollars, I’ll take $5m of it and split it with everyone who likes this post.

May 27, 2021

You’ve heard me say, “Start at the finish line and work backwards from there.” It’s a strategy that’s served me well in life, and looking at today’s B.C. graph reminded me of something.

Back in high school, grade 12 — our science teacher wanted us to figure out absolute zero experimentally. This isn’t a complicated experiment; it’s simply based on the assumption that the volume of a gas changes with temperature. The hotter the gas, the more space it wants to occupy… so if you’ve got the gas locked into a fixed-volume chamber, by measuring the pressure at different temperatures, you can learn a lot.

Side-note… I got into an argument once with someone who insisted that it’s possible to have a temperature colder than absolute zero. Given that temperature is really just measuring the speed of molecules, and that absolute zero is the speed at which they stop, I think it’s impossible for anything to be colder that that… in much the same way it’s impossible for your car to be going any slower than “stopped”. If any experts want to tell me how it might be possible, I’m listening. In fact, like the speed of light, I believe you can’t even get to it… you can just get really close… but if you reach it, all sorts of universal rules break down.

Anyway, with this experiment, you measure the pressure of the gas at different temperatures… and then you graph it. You plot the points on a graph; pressure vs. temperature. And since this is a linear relationship, you should be able to find the temperature by finding the line that cuts through all the data points and then eventually hits the graph at zero. This process is called extrapolation… where you take certain data, figure out the rules that apply to it, and make intelligent guesses with data points you haven’t actually measured experimentally. If your car passes a fence post every 10 seconds at 50km/h, can you figure out how fast you’d need to be going if you wanted to pass a fence post every one second? You can measure and graph it at 50, 100 and maybe even 150km/h… and if you plot that, there’s a perfect straight line to show you you’d need to be going 500km/h. Much easier than trying to do it experimentally.

Of course, if you’re relying on the graph to give you the answer, it’s important the measurements be accurate because a couple of dots just a bit off will move the line significantly. An extrapolation of absolute zero that’s +/- 3 degrees of the real answer is a good result.

But I chose to start at the finish line… and found exactly where, on the graph, absolute zero would be (-273.15 C.)… and drew my line from there to my first data point. And then, magically, all of my results landed perfectly onto the line.

When the teacher was handing back the lab books next class, he stopped at my desk.

“Congratulations on your excellent result, Mr. Kemeny.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t you find it extraordinary that, armed with just some rudimentary equipment, you managed to find a result accurate to within a 10th of a degree?”

“It’s quite remarkable, sir.”

“How do you explain it?”

“It must be due to the excellent science instruction I’ve been receiving in this course, sir.”

“Thank you, but I’m not that good. Please keep in mind, Mr. Kemeny, that life rarely offers you shortcuts.”

“I suppose that means that when it does, we should take them?”

He just handed me back the lab book. I got 8/10. Everyone else got 10. I didn’t argue.

Looking at today’s B.C. graph, it’s a linear descent towards zero new cases a day. Like bad data, a couple of bad days can significantly affect the landing point, but until it does, let’s have a bit of fun with the numbers.

You’ll see below three new graphs. The first one is a consolidation of all of the vaccination rate graphs. Yes, we get it, they’re all going up, nobody is getting un-vaccinated, and those graphs are small enough that the nuanced differences between provinces are indistinguishable. So now, they’re all on one graph… if you want to compare apples to apples.

The other two graphs, as per above, are extrapolations… one is Canada and the other is B.C. The thick line is the real data up to today. The dotted line is where we’re headed if nothing changes. This is still very much a work in progress… so, we shall see. I’m no expert… just some guy plotting points and drawing lines.

It’d be nice to be able to work backwards; certainly, it’s what our provincial health ministry has tried to do with our 4-step re-opening plan… but here we’re stuck doing the actual experiment… and, it should be noted… if these numbers and graphs are anywhere close to reality, we will easily achieve the targets of out provincial 4-set plan. I’d certainly give that a well-deserved 10/10.

May 26, 2021

Just to briefly touch upon a big question mark… that’s slowly being answered as research emerges… what’s the deal with the delayed second doses? Why are we playing with the science, etc…

To rewind a bit, let’s remember that the timeline for these vaccines to be released into the wild was compressed – things happened much faster than usual. This doesn’t mean the science was skipped or compromised; it was the bureaucracy around it.

That being said, in an effort to get the thing out the door as quickly as possible, a different sort of question was asked; not one that’s typically asked of vaccines.

The question was: What’s the shortest period of time where a two-shot regimen would be effective? It was known that one dose of an mRNA vaccine wouldn’t generate enough of a response… and the answer to the question of spacing doses has two answers, because there are two different questions. One is how soon can it be to be effective? And two is… what’s ideal?

The former question was chosen to be answered in the same way that many of life’s problems get solved – decide what’s most important. “Good enough” far outweighs “Ideal” in this case, and that’s what we got. This is not to say that people who got the shots 3 weeks apart got anything bad; on the contrary… that’s what was tested, verified safe, and verified effective with a 95% efficacy.

So, what’s the problem? There is no problem… but now we have enough time and data to answer question two, and it’s what most experts expected… because it’s what’s typically seen with these sorts of vaccines.

Anyone who’s ever had a vaccine booster barely remembers the timing of what’s being boosted. It’s often measured in years… or, at best, months. Never weeks. My recent Shingrix vaccine against Shingles had a follow-up booster that was to be taken within two to six months after the first dose. But what’s optimal? 2? 4? 6? I couldn’t find anything to support a more specific number, but the answer to all of them was “good enough”.

The answer to the optimal spacing of C19 mRNA vaccines… as it turns out, while 3 weeks is certainly good enough, it seems waiting a little longer is “better”. It should be noted that “better” in this context is similar to how, for the purposes of putting out a candle, a firehose is “better” than a garden hose.

Specifically, for Pfizer… people who received their booster 11 to 12 weeks after their first dose were found to have 3.5 times higher peak-antibody levels.

It’s quite likely this is the same for Moderna. And it’s certainly turned out to be the case for AstraZeneca… just ask the U.K.

The whole point of this isn’t really to say what’s “better” – it’s more to point out what’s “not worse”… and the answer is… all of it. All of it is “not worse”. If you’re getting a second jab, you’re good… no matter when. And yes, of course… if the second jab is 5 years from now, it’s a different story. But it won’t be; given supply and demand… everyone is falling into that range… from “good enough” to “more than good enough”.

This big question mark has been shrinking consistently as more and more results emerge, and I expect it’ll vanish by the time any of us need a 3rd booster. In fact, by then, it’s possible we’ll have learned that all that’s needed from now on is a once-a-year boost – one that could easily be combined with the annual flu shot. Either way, one big question mark extinguished.

May 25, 2021

When airplanes land, there’s a lot of maneuvering that takes place in the last 40 minutes… you start descending from the cruising altitude, and you navigate in such a way that you’re lined up with the runway. Depending on other traffic, there may be a holding-pattern loop or two… or you might need to speed up or slow down. You’ll hear the flaps being deployed, which gives the wings more surface area, and the ability to “lift” at slower speeds. But after all the turns and changes in velocity and changes in control surfaces… eventually, you’re lined up with the runway on final approach… and you’ll know you’re there because you’ll hear the landing gear drop. There are no more turns once the gear is down; barring some unforeseen circumstances, you’ll be landing shortly.

Today’s optimistic provincial update felt that way; it felt like the landing gear coming down. There is a clear, straight path ahead of us, and, barring something unexpected, we all step off the plane in early September… and this bumpy, nightmarish, turbulent 15-month flight is over.

Today’s dropping of the landing gear also brought about dropping the circuit-breaker restrictions… as well as a number of social-distancing measures. It was a great day for restaurants and other small businesses.

Step two, in mid-June, with further restrictions being lifted, will feel like the moment when the plane kisses the runway and then slows down and heads for the gate… and you, also, will be kissing people… in gatherings of 50 or more… indoor and outdoor.

Step three, in early July, will be that moment when the plane stops at the gate, goes “ding”, and everyone takes off their seat-belts and gets up. And it’s not just you lifting your sore butt off that seat; that’ll be the moment the provincial state of emergency is lifted. The moment the public health emergency is lifted.

And then… that waiting period… of “just open the damn door and let me out of here”… a couple of months of that, but, by then, things will be feeling pretty normal. We’re on the ground and plane has stopped. We’re not going to die.

I won’t fill in all the detail of what happens on all of those dates; check out the official government site for all that… but I will mention that an important aspect of all of this is that we stay on the path that got us here. At the moment, our excellent vaccination rates are causing our case counts and hospitalizations and ICU admissions to plummet, and that’s a necessary part of this; these steps rely on the adult population continuing a path towards complete vaccination.

We’ll never get to 100%, but the targets set out by this plan are easy to achieve. In fact, although I doubt they’d shift much, there’s room to bring these dates forward. We’re at more than 60% of the adult population vaccinated today, and it only needs to get to 65% in mid-June and 70% by July. If we achieve that, we’re there.

A lot has been asked from all of us throughout the last 15 months, but perhaps the biggest ask is this last one; get vaccinated. It makes a profound difference for all of us, something we can plainly see from the numbers.

I’ve been on flights where moments from touchdown, suddenly you’ll hear three things in unison; the landing gear going back up, the flaps being retracted, and the engines revving higher. This is the good-old aborted landing, and it causes three things to go up by at least 20: the minutes of flight time, your diastolic blood pressure… and the percentage chance of you missing your connection. It sucks, and that’s what this would feel like if vaccination rates tail off or numbers stall in their descent.

We’re almost there, and this part is now pretty easy… because if you’re already vaccinated, you can do a lot more than what you could do yesterday. And if you’re not… what a great day to pick up the phone or go online… and get registered.

Look out the window of the plane; it’s a beautiful day and we’re close enough to the ground that you can see lots of familiar sights. Did you miss them?

Me too… but you’ll be visiting them soon enough. Let’s just land this thing.

May 24, 2021

These long weekends used to scare me a bit because it’s like flying blind for a few days. We might wake up Tuesday morning to find 3,000 dead and 400,000 new cases. It never happened (not even close), thankfully, and I guess that’s why when B.C. decided to pull the plug on weekend updates, they never came back. But I certainly appreciated they updated numbers today… and they were as good as we can hope for… beautifully following that descent to zero. Today’s less-than-300 new cases was the lowest since Feb. 1st… before the 3rd wave.

For the most part, the other interesting numbers to follow these days (barring a 4th wave appearing suddenly and out of nowhere) are the vaccination numbers. On a per-capita basis, we’ve pulled ahead of our southern neighbours, and it’s to no great surprise. We are vaccinating as fast as we can; they are not.

Other broad brush strokes… our military is 85% vaccinated, and that number would be higher were it not for logistics… so it’ll keep rising. On the flip side, the American military refusal rate is somewhere between 33% and 50%, depending who you ask.

Military aside, what about the general population?

In the U.S., it looks like this…

Democrats: 67% vaccinated + 24% asap or waiting = up to 92% eventually, with 8% saying never.

Republicans: 46% vaccinated + 22% asap or waiting = up to 68% eventually, with 32% saying never.

In Canada, it looks like this…

Already vaccinated or will eventually / outright refusal:

NDP: 79% / 9%

Liberal: 84% / 5%

Conservative: 69% / 19%

Seriously, what is it with right-leaning mindsets? Why does conservative equal vaccine hesitancy? Is it because they don’t trust the government? Is it because they don’t trust science? Is it because it’s not in the bible? Or it IS in the bible in some hidden way?

The first time I ran across this sort of horseshit was when I was only 13 and it was pointed out to me that the new American president (Ronald Wilson Reagan) had 6 letters in each of his names. 666… the sign on the beast. Clearly, he was the anti-christ… notwithstanding he was himself a staunch Republican. Seems about as valid as the fact that Reagan can be spelled/pronounced Ray-gun – queue the space lasers and World War III.

If you like this sort of nonsense, get this:

C=3
O=15
R=18
O=15
N=14
A=1
——
6 66 — run for the hills!!!!

… or just trust the science and get vaccinated. Jeez.

May 23, 2021

I hope you got your good dose of sunshine in yesterday, because around here, we’re back to “the usual” for a week. The big Vancouver Weather Wheel (VWW) has only three sections… “It’s about to rain”, “It’s raining” and “It just rained.” A recent spin landed in section 2, and that’s where it’ll sit for a while… and actually, that’s ok. The freshest air on the planet exists when things transition from section 2 to section 3.

The other thing going on these days is the transition from the NHL regular season to the NHL playoffs –lots of rain equals Spring equals NHL playoffs… and there’s an interesting correlation… you can sort of map playoff performance with Covid-19 numbers.

Here in B.C., our numbers have recently tanked, which is very good. The Canucks have also tanked… which is good or bad, depending on whether you like to see a strong finish or a better draft pick. Either way, both our pandemic numbers and our team’s performance have crashed down noticeably. Playoffs? LOL.

One province east of us is Alberta, whose pandemic numbers were riding high. Also riding high were the Edmonton Oilers… who seem to have hit a brick wall when they entered the playoffs. And right around the time the Oilers began their journey to falling down two games to zero to the Jets, so did their C19 numbers. That’s an impressive meltdown, their daily new-case numbers… falling like a rock. Much like the Oilers’ chances of getting much further in the playoffs. They might go down 3 games to 0 to the Winnipeg Jets, who are flying high these days.

Unfortunately, so are the C19 numbers in Winnipeg. Manitoba is the one province that isn’t yet headed in the right direction, though perhaps they’re turning the corner too.

As has happened numerous times in the past, the Leafs and Habs are battling it out; that series is tied, similar to the C19 numbers in those two provinces, as far as things getting better… though I’d have to give the “trending advantage” to Quebec… which, in this warped correlation of mine, is good news for Leafs fans.

Two of those four teams will meet in the next round of the playoffs, and only one will make it to the semi-final round… where they’ll run into an American powerhouse team.

I hope at that point, the team is Las Vegas… and I hope that’s there this correlation breaks down. Las Vegas numbers are looking so good these days, the place is almost back to normal. They’ve already thrown the doors open in most places, and will do so entirely in the next couple of weeks; any Las Vegas hockey game will play to a packed house, and that’d be a great way to watch a game… whether live or on TV. I’ve been to games in Las Vegas; usually it’s the Canucks getting beaten up, but it’s always a memorable experience… one I hope to partake in once again, sooner than later. I don’t see myself in that crowd anytime soon… but watching something that real will be a very good indication we’re in the final stretch.

And, for what it’s worth, it rarely rains in Vegas.

May 22, 2021

Masks / no masks, vaccines / no vaccines, social distancing or not, 5G, Bill Gates, Fauci, Tam, Henry, Chinese conspiracy, whatever… there are many things to disagree upon… but one thing upon which everybody seems to agree is that healthy doses of sunshine and vitamin D (don’t overdo it) are a good combatant against Covid. Early on in the pandemic, it was noticed that the vast majority (if not 100% in some cases) of seriously ill patients were found to be Vitamin D deficient… and this is one vitamin where, if you’re lucky, you can get plenty of it for super-cheap.

So that’s what I’ve been doing most of this day, and I hope you’re out there as well, infusing yourself with this free healing power… especially since next week, we’re back to little pills if you want your Vitamin D fix. Vancouver, you know.

By |2021-05-22T17:04:29-07:00May 22nd, 2021|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report|Tags: , , , , , , , |3 Comments
Go to Top