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Day 80 – June 4, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Follower Favourites, Politics, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I had a whole thing written out today… but it’s taken a sharp turn… and I ended up pulling the plug on the latter half of it. It might not surprise you to learn that I have a lot to say about all sorts of topics, and sometimes my personal opinion perhaps clouds my judgement… or let’s just call it objectivity. I have a pretty clear idea of what I think is right, but that’s never stopped me from trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes, to see how things look from their point of view. Everyone has their story, as incongruent as it might be, so let’s hear it. I might learn something from it.

I’m going to get a little technical for a moment. There are two techie things to understand: A Virtual Machine and a VPN. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if you know what those things are.

A Virtual Machine is basically a computer running inside a computer. A host computer runs the virtual machine, and the virtual machine (and everything running in it) thinks it’s running as a stand-alone computer. For example, this is being written on a Mac, my primary computer (and host computer). But off in the corner, at the moment, I have a tiny VM… running, of all things, Windows XP. I need to do this because I have some hardware that needs controlling and for which there’s no current software; the old stuff runs fine, so rather than having a whole computer dedicated to it, I have this 20-year-old operating system running inside a VM that makes it look like 20-year-old hardware. That operating system thinks it’s running on a computer with a Pentium 4 chip, 512 megs of RAM and a 5GB hard drive. Minuscule numbers for today, but they work just fine for the purpose.

A common use for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is to establish a location different than where you actually are. Typically, VPNs are used to grant access securely to some remote resource, but people quickly figured out a convenient by-product… that often, those VPNs are based elsewhere. From there sprung-up a whole industry for people trying to bypass local controls. For the most part, a website can only tell where you physically are from the IP address you’re using. It’s a big no-no in some places in the world to connect to a VPN… like everywhere that the government controls access to the internet, because many VPNs allow you to select the location you want… be it a country, state or even city. Around here, people mostly use VPNs to watch US-based Netflix. When you connect to a VPN, you can “be” anywhere in the world that you want.

So a while back, I created a completely clean VM — like a brand-new installed operating system. I then set that VM to always connect through a VPN, in what we would all call a very red state. Serious MAGA country. Then I signed up for a new fake email address and then, Facebook. That FB profile had a fake name and fake credentials… no pictures of me… just many of American flags, Donald Trump, etc.

The intent here was research. I had no intent on engaging with anyone. I just started “Liking” lots of different groups, friending lots of American patriots, to see what my feed would look like. What would show up, and, more importantly, what “news” would show up? I just wanted to see what this world looks like from a very different lens… and you’d be surprised… slick and professional. Totally believable… so much so, a few times I had to go back and check other news sources to compare. What actually did happen today?

Near the end of the experiment, I made the mistake of engaging, because I was getting frustrated at all the crap I was seeing, and the same non-questioning, non-critical-thinking RaRaRa MagaTrump etc… there was such misinformation being posted that it begged asking… so I sent this blurb to a few people:

“I am curious about something — are you propagating misinformation on purpose? Are you just blindly copying/pasting information because it aligns with what you hope is reality? I apologize in advance if this comes off as a personal attack; it’s not meant to be. I’m just noticing a lot of people taking information that can’t possibly be correct and reposting it because it agrees with their version of reality, as warped as it might be. What you posted — do you know it’s bullshit? Do you not expect to get called on it? I’m genuinely curious.”

The result was what you’d expect, but far worse. It became impossible to manage.

I ended up shutting it down. I closed the FB account, closed the email, dragged the VM to the Trash. The whole fake identity no longer exists. Unfortunately, the reality with which that identity briefly interacted — it’s all still there.

I am desperate to see real change in the word, but I am incredibly discouraged by what I experienced. There is a whole block of population that simply can not understand, doesn’t want to understand, is unwilling to understand… it doesn’t matter how you word it. There are people who will post something so outrageous that it’s literally impossible for it to be true, yet they will defend it to the death. There is no logic that can be applied to convince them otherwise, because they don’t want to be convinced. They have their truth. So if you can’t convince someone who seems intelligent and educated… that their COVID-19 numbers, claiming a death-rate that would require the US population to be 15 billion people — are bullshit, how far do you think you’re going to get with more subtle, reasonable arguments… be it the pandemic, politics, racism, whatever. Their minds are made up, and nothing will ever change them.

As per the first sentence of this post… I’m cutting it here. My intent here is not to insult people, just inform… be it facts, or simply my opinion.

I talked recently about it being a steep uphill, but this looks like a vertical rock face. I do have my ideas, and perhaps I’ll eventually get around to sharing them… but honestly, at this point, I’m open to suggestions. It has to start with education… but how?


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Day 79 – June 3, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming|Tags: , , , , , |

They say you can tell a lot about a culture by how many different words they have for certain things. The classic example is the Inuit people, having 30 or 50 or even 100 different words to describe different types of snow. When something is important to you, potentially hazardous, a bit of detail is called for. It’s not always life-or-death… but the ability to be a little more descriptive than usual is always helpful.

It was amusing while reading about this topic to find that the English language has 40 different words for the word… “different”… like alternate, dissimilar, eclectic, mixes, varied… and so on. I also found that English has over 300 different words to describe… drunk.

Sometimes, something doesn’t need lots of different words… but just a single word that captures a lot of meaning. You can certainly learn a lot about other cultures as well, when they have certain words to describe something oddly specific… such as German, and their famous word “schadenfreude (n): pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune”

You know how sometimes, as a joke, you like to tap someone’s shoulder while standing behind their other shoulder? There’s a word in Indonesian for that: “mencolek”

You know the people who sit around coffee shops for hours on the laptops, using up the free WiFi and not really buying anything? The French have a word for them: “seigneur-terraces”

You know that feeling you get when your haircut is finished, and you sit there, looking at the mirror… in horror, because it’s nothing like what you were hoping for? The Japanese would call that “age-otori”. I suspect many of us will be feeling that in the coming days… I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying this full-on fro I’m presently sporting.

You know the feeling you get when you’re sitting on a barstool, and it starts to tip over backwards? Well, turns out there’s no word for that, but there should be. We’ve all felt that particular instant fear/horror/panic induced by that experience.

So, here’s a good word… and I remember the most powerful experience I’ve had of this emotion… Monday, March 1st, 2010… at around 9pm, I stood in the middle of the intersection of Burrard and Hastings. There was not a single car or person visible in any direction…. talk about eerie. If you’re wondering, it was the day after the Canada/U.S. gold-medal game; the day after the 2010 Olympics. It as all over and we were all Olympic’d out I guess. Downtown was a ghost town.

The word for that is: “kenopsia (n): The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.” This is something we’ve all felt at one point or another in the last couple of months… and if you’ve felt it… and/or if you’ve felt the emotion of my bar-stool example, I’m just here to state the obvious; you’re not alone. We’ve all felt it, but perhaps we didn’t have the word to describe it. Words are important. Being able to talk about it is important. And as recent events have shown us, even when we haven’t been vocal about it, we’re all capable of feeling the same thing. Let’s keep adding new words to our vocabulary… because we have a lot to discuss.

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Day 78 – June 2, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Science of COVID-19|Tags: , , , , |

One day, the COVID-19 pandemic will be gone. Because of our great efforts… or perhaps, in spite of them. There will be treatments, there will be a vaccine, it’ll burn itself out. One way or the other.

Other virulent infestations, society has shown us, will never go away on their own… the sorts of things that take education, understanding, compassion… and a concerted effort and buy-in from everyone. It’s a long road and it’s a steep uphill, but it’s a journey that’s long overdue.


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Day 77 – June 1, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

One of my all-time favourite movies is “Inception”. Christopher Nolan’s film-making and story-telling won many awards, and deservedly so, but above and beyond that is one of the fundamental concepts of the movie, and it’s a fascinating one. Its importance plays out in the world continually. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, that basic idea is easy to understand… the difference of a thought, and its origin, and how different you treat a thought, depending on whether you came up with it yourself, or whether it was suggested to you. And how you might act completely differently, depending on that.

The simplest example… I tell you to think about pink elephants. Now you’re thinking about pink elephants… but you know it was me that made you think of them.

A better example… after dinner, you realize you haven’t done the kitchen cleanup all on your own in a long time, and decide you’re going to be a nice person and do everyone a favour. “I’m going to wash the entire kitchen”, you think to yourself, happy and proud to be a helpful and appreciated part of the family.

Compared to… you thinking that, but before you get a chance to announce it, someone says… “Hey… you haven’t done the kitchen in a while… go do it”. The end result of the action you ultimately take might be the same, but you’ll be thinking about it very differently.

In fact, you might have been mere moments away from announcing your intention, but now that someone else suggested it to you, it completely reframes it… and you probably feel differently (and not as good) about it. So much so that you might be tempted to say, “Hey, I was going to do it, but if you put it that way — forget it. You do it.”

The magic would be, from someone else’s point of view, if they could plant that thought into your head. They want you to do the kitchen, but they want you to come up with the idea. When you own the idea, you feel a lot differently about it, and… more importantly, you’re far likelier to take responsibility for it.

Throughout my life, I’ve been on both sides of that… well all have… professionally, personally, whatever… there’s no technical solution to Inception, as in the movie, with fancy (and presently non-existentent) technology… so in the real world, the closest thing would be social engineering — not in the sinister fashion of trying to extract login or bank info from people, but by simply interacting with people in a way that guides things in the direction — and ultimately, conclusion — that you’re hoping for.

From one point of view, this can happen when someone has managed to surround themselves with excellent, intelligent people… but because of corporate hierarchies, they’re the one in charge, and the decisions and responsibility fall on them… yet the real brains may be “below” them. Nobody down there wants to be responsible; it’s better for those people if the boss comes up with the idea… so while they won’t come right out and say it, they know exactly what needs to happen… and will dance around it until the boss says, “Hey! I have a great idea!”. “Great!”, they will reply… knowing exactly what’s coming.

The other point of view… well, as a parent, you quickly learn that there comes a point where telling your kids what to do… doesn’t work. As per above, “Do the dishes, now!” isn’t often met with the success for which one would hope. But here’s what does work… “Hey, we want to try to start watching the movie at 8. Try to get everything you need to get done… out of the way by then.” They know they have to do the dishes; you don’t need to even mention it. And, now the power is entirely in their hands. It’ll be their idea of “Oh… better do the dishes”.

With respect to this pandemic, I’ve spoken about the difference between having a doctor instead of a politician in charge. And that even though there are politicians involved, they’re deferring to her order, and the messaging is clear. There is one voice…. but… Dr. Henry isn’t really telling us what to do. Like an excellent parent, she’s transparently presenting us all the facts, but to a great extent, letting us figure out for ourselves how to act. She’s never said “Don’t travel this weekend.” — but she’s hinted as to why it’d be a bad idea and suggested against it… yet left it in all of our collective minds to consider… to the extent that if you did, or if you’re not socially distancing, or if you’re not wearing a mask when you really should… you’ll actually feel a little guilty about it. You’ll actually have taken ownership of the decision… and I think our high compliance numbers and resulting success are a great testament to that one simple fact… a fact that has even bigger implications these days; great success can be found by educating people, and arming them with enough knowledge that it allows them to reach correct conclusions on their own.

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Day 76 – May 31, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Life in Vancouver, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Looking around the world for some good, optimistic news… we could all use a bit of that… I came across both France and Italy, both showing steadily declining numbers… and entering re-opening phases… a very welcome progression for those two places that were hit very hard.

One of the well-known symptoms of COVID-19 is how it affects the sense of taste and smell.. and that reminded me of amusing thought… due to an observation I had when I was in Paris in 1996. My girlfriend at the time was studying a year abroad at The Sorbonne, and I’d gone over to visit her for a couple of weeks. We didn’t have a lot of money to spare as we were saving money to go to Italy the following week, so we spent most days just wandering the streets of Paris, from park to park, coffee shop to coffee shop. And what struck me were two things; everybody smoked, and nobody picked up after their dogs. The streets were littered with cigarette butts and dogshit, and it occurred to me that the two things were connected. Most people didn’t realize now badly their city smelled, because all they could sense on a continual basis was cigarette smoke. Actively, stale or second-hand — you couldn’t get away from it.

And all of that reminds me of a funny story…

She lived in a tiny apartment above a coffee shop that she frequented, and on my first morning there, we went down to grab a coffee.

“Un latée, si vous plait”, I said to the shopkeeper/barista/older French guy.

“Monsiour, there is no such thing as a ‘latée’ — what you want is a café-au-lait. You Americans… you butcher our language.”

Whoah dude, what… jeez.

Typically, in that situation, the first thing I do is clarify the very relevant, important and proud point that I am Canadian, not American. But in that very WTF moment, what I said was… and I should point out, I don’t speak German… but having visited Berlin a few years earlier, I still remembered a few key words… and so what I found myself saying was,

“You know… if it weren’t for us Americans, I wouldn’t be asking for a latée… or a café-au-lait… I’d be asking for Ein Heisse Milch Kaffe.”

As you might imagine, that was not well-received. The look of genuine surprise on his face though, the way his eyes got all wide… his own WTF expression… that was funny.

“Get out. Don’t come back”.

Hell yeah man, we’re outta here, and we’re not looking back.

So that’s how you get banned from a French coffee shop. The girlfriend wasn’t too pleased, having had her daily coffee hook-up destroyed (it wasn’t, she went right back to it after I left), but that whole episode brought to mind that old saying that France is wonderful, except for the people. I don’t really agree with that; we met some great people on that trip and I’ve been back there a few times since. Always a great experience. Arrogant jerks come in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll find them everywhere.

And we did make it to Italy, near the end of the trip… near the end of the relationship too, in fact… due to episodes like that one, but also this:

The idea was to get to Venice, but it was going to be shoestring all the way. Staying in Venice was out of the question, but we found a cheap hostel in Padova, about a 30-minute train ride away. Cool hostel by the way… the rooms were all molded plastic. The bathroom — sink/toilet/shower — was one tiny molded room, and after you used it, you’d push a button and the entire thing — every part of it, would be thoroughly cleaned; a whole cycle of soap/rinse/dry.

So in the morning, we headed to the train station to catch the train to Venice. I don’t remember how much the tickets were in Lira (this was before the Euro), but it was roughly $14 for a 1st-class ticket and $12 for a 2nd-class ticket, and we got into a huge argument. I wanted to pay the extra $2, and she argued we didn’t need to. Come on it’s only $4, yeah but it’s throwing money away, yeah but jeez, for the experience, who knows when we’ll be back here, as if we’re ever coming back here together, etc. Finally, I had to cave because — well, does that even need explaining. In any event, she spoke Italian so she went to deal with it… she bought us two 2nd-class tickets and she guided us to the platform and onto one of the train’s 2nd-class cars.

And, I have to be honest. It was really nice. Plush, comfortable seats. Not crowded. Quiet. Air conditioned. Wow, I thought… this is great. OK, I was wrong.

Halfway through the journey, the conductor shows up to take our tickets. We hand them over. He frowns. No no, he says… not 1st class. Huh? Oh crap… we’re sitting in 1st class. Oops. Sorry, we say… we will move right away. No no, he says, wagging his finger at us… you pay. Oh… yeah, ok, we will pay. Ironic, I think… all that fighting for nothing; here we are. I’m prepared to pay the “upgrade”, except now they’re both arguing and she’s getting upset and eventually explains to me that no, we can’t just upgrade the tickets… we’re being fined. She’s crying, I’m yelling, and he’s telling us police will be meeting us at the other end if we refuse to pay the fine, on the spot. The fine was $40 each, which took our entire budget for the day. I’d been trying to figure out how we were going to eat, catch a chamber-music concert at some church, and go for a gondola ride with the budget we’d had. The problem was solved… we did none of that… just wandered the streets (and bridges) of Venice till we could walk no more. At least there was less dogshit to contend with.

Yes… this has little to do with anything; blame it on Dr. Henry and her lack of releasing numbers on Sundays. I will correct the numbers tomorrow, as usual, and hopefully have something more relevant to convey… but it seems to be a “flat-or-better” sort of day.

But for now, that’s it; the weather looks good… maybe go outside and take your dog for a walk. And pick-up after it.

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Day 75 – May 30, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Travel Stories, Humour, Space & Astronomy, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Let’s start with the vastness of how incredibly big the universe is, like indescribably impossibly, unimaginably big. I’ve written about how our brains lose scale the bigger and more unrelateable the numbers get. But also, if you go the other way, things get unrelateably small. We think we can conceive of how small an atom is, but it’s way smaller than you imagine… and the building blocks that make up the nucleai of atoms… protons, neutrons…and other sub-atomic particles… way smaller… and quarks beneath that… it’s a long way down, all the way to the down to the Planck length… which is the scale at which classical ideas about gravity and space-time cease to be valid, and quantum effects take over. This is the “quantum of length”, the smallest measurement of length that has any meaning. It is roughly equal to 1.6 x 10^-35 m or about 100,000,000,000,000,000,000th the size of a proton.

It is estimated that the diameter of the observable universe is about 28.5 gigaparsecs (93 billion light-years, or 8.8×10^23 kilometres or, well, let’s spell it out… 550,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles), putting the edge of the observable universe about 46.5 billion light-years away.

If you look at the numbers in metric… I’m going to normalize these things to a unit we’ll define as a tenth of a millimetre… let’s call that unit… I dunno… a Kovid.

Why that particular length? Because it’s the mid-point between the biggest and smallest things in the universe. The universe itself is 8.8×10^31 Kovids wide… while the Planck length is 1.6 x 10^31 Kovids… which means the width of a human hair is the half-way point in size. Take the width of the universe… average it with the smallest width we can measure… and you get the width a human hair. It blows your mind no matter which direction you approach it from. We, here, in our 3D existence, are right in the middle of a scale that’s vastly incomprehensible, no matter how you view it.

This is the sort of coincidence that either means a lot, or means nothing… sort of like how if you observe the cosmos, you will notice that everything is moving away from us. Like, if there was a Big Bang, visualized as an explosion from a central location, we are right in the middle. That sounds profoundly meaningful until you realize that the Big Bang was not that sort of explosion… it was an explosion of time and space, and it’s expanding uniformly everywhere… like, everywhere in the universe looks like the middle of it, because everything seems to be moving away from it.

Interesting duality with both of those things, depending on how you look at it… either we, humanity, is really incredibly important in the grand scheme of things… or we’re an insignificant, irrelevant part of the bigger picture. It’s probably a bit of both, again… depending how you view it.

All of this came to mind this morning while watching a rocket launch — the first manned launch for SpaceX and their Falcon 9 rocket. It’s fantastic to see the new technology, which, if you’ve been following the evolution of SpaceX, is a slow and steady progression of very impressive engineering. I am in awe of these guys being able to take the exhausted first stage of a rocket, and recover it perfectly, landing it on a ship that’s waiting for it in the precise spot. And the space capsule itself, all operated from touch panels… no endless maze of confusing knobs and switches. It’s crazily impressive what mankind can do when it puts its mind to it.

It’s also tragically horrifying what mankind can do, as evidenced by the events that triggered the present evolving meltdown in the U.S. We make such progress on one hand, and it’s like we haven’t evolved from barbaric cavemen in others. Rocket fuel burns, taking mankind literally upwards, on a 19 hour journey to another technological marvel, the International Space Station… while on the ground, cities burn in protest and recognition of just how far other parts of society need to evolve. The vast spectrum between those two things seems as vast as my Kovid scale.

Shoutout to the two astronauts, Bob and Doug (how’s it going, eh…), and may they have a safe journey to the ISS — and back. And it’s interesting… for those guys, when they look out the window, they can see it all… the entire earth below them. The place where everything that’s ever happened… entirely in their field of view. How small we all are in the grand scheme of things, but at our scale, how large and important things seem. I bet if we could all see that view — take a huge step back… or, up, really… 400km up to the ISS… and look down, I wonder if we’d realize that we are all very much the same.

It’s suggested that everyone, especially when they’re young, go somewhere… else. Like, vastly different. There are plenty of places that need schools built and fresh-water wells dug and English classes taught… they need the help, and some people around here need a vastly different perspective. You certainly appreciate what you have here and what you take for granted when you see things through a different lens. I’d like to think that in the future, space travel will be so accessible that everyone might have the opportunity to at least spend a few hours in orbit, looking down. The grade-12 trip won’t be 2 weeks in Guatemala… it’ll be a trip to a launchpad, and then upwards… far.

Perhaps a few laps of the planet would make people realize that from up there, there are no visible borders and that the people below, whose cultures and skin colours can’t be seen from so far above, must also all be part of the same big picture. And maybe that’ll lead to less people being murdered, asphyxiated with knees to their necks. Or less people playing victim and trying to get someone arrested (or worse) because they’re offended at being told to leash their dogs.

Look at this godforsaken virus. It’s doesn’t care. It doesn’t differentiate. White people in Italy, Black people in New York, Asian people in China. It’ll infect and kill us all indiscriminately. But you can’t blame it. It has no brain, no consciousness, no empathy, no compassion. We humans have all of that, and if we can use it to advance humanity the way today’s launch implies, we can certainly use it to fix the rampant and evident ongoing societal inequalities that persist.

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Day 74 – May 29, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Life in Vancouver, Humour, Space & Astronomy, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

If you’re a flat-earther… stop reading now. But if you actually believe the earth is a sphere (it’s actually an oblate spheroid, a little flatter at the poles and bulging at the equator, because of the spin… but whatever…), then you may have wondered at some point… how fast am I moving? If you’re standing at the South Pole, the answer is… you’re not… you’re just spinning in a very slow circle, completing a full revolution once a day. The circumference at the equator is 40,000km, and a day lasts 24 hours, so the math is simple — you’re whizzing along at 1,667 km/h… a little over 1,000 MPH. Actually, you’re moving through space a lot faster than that… because the earth moves around the sun, and our solar system spins around the center of our galaxy… and our galaxy itself is also moving through space, at over 2 million km/h. There’s no better proof of the impossibility of time travel than that… even if you move back in time one second, you’d materialize in the middle of nowhere, out in space somewhere. OK, that was a tangent… where was I…

The city of San José, Costa Rica, is a little over 1,000km north of the equator, somewhere around the 10-11º latitude. What’s interesting about places close to the equator is how quickly the sun rises and sun sets. Given how fast the earth is moving at that spot, it makes sense. It goes from full sunshine to pitch black in less than 30 minutes, and same with sunrise, but the other way around. And how little sunrise/sunset times change throughout the year. Without exception, no matter what time of the year it is, somewhere between 5am and 6am, pitch black to brilliant sunshine. And sometime between 5pm and 6pm, the opposite. Every day lasts almost exactly 12 hours. They have no idea what it’s like around here, for it to be pitch black at 4:30pm on those miserable Winter days, or brilliant sunshine after 9pm (coming in less than a month!)

What’s also interesting about San José is the temperature variation throughout the year — or lack thereof. There are no hot or cold seasons… it’s all the same, year-round, and the temperature range is a narrow sliver. Over a typical year, the coldest temperature is around 18ºC (64ºF) and the hottest is around 27ºC (80ºF). That’s only a 9ºC difference, and if that’s all you’ve ever known, the temperatures near the edge of that range can feel extreme… which leads to the amusing situation some friends and I found ourselves in when we were there. We were staying in a nice place with a beautiful pool… and it was after dinner, already dark, but it was 18ºC out… more than suitable pool weather. So we’re in the pool, splashing around, having a great time… and there’s a security guard wandering around… in a full winter jacket, toque, gloves and ear-muffs. Looking at us like we’re crazy. And we’re looking at him like he’s crazy.

But that’s all he knows, and that’s all he’s used to, and 18ºC to him is like -20ºC to us… the very edge of super-cold.

And now you’re wondering what this might have to do with this pandemic (I was going to say “global pandemic”, but every time I do, my son corrects me… “As opposed to what, dad… a neighbourhood pandemic?” — OK, it’s a pandemic… it’s global. And it’s very straightforward… it’s making us look at things differently, for us — but things that for certain people are a way of life, because they were already used to it.

Indeed, I think for a lot of people, adjusting to the new-normal has been a bigger shock, the more complicated their previous life was. Because really, the simpler your life was before, the easier (if any) adjustments you had to make. Some remote village where people live self-sufficiently, grow their own food, fish, raise chickens… they’re barely, if at all, affected. There’s that lingering thought I keep having about simplifying life in general, because now that things are starting to open up, my old life is pulling me back in, and I find myself resisting a bit.

We’re still far from the end of this, and we’re all itching to bring back at least some degree of familiar normalcy. It’ll be a far cry from the real thing, which is coming one day… on the (hopefully not too) distant horizon… but even when things are 100% back to normal, I hope we can hold on to some of the not-so-normal, that was imposed upon us… because it’s not all bad. I certainly hope so. I’m trying.

When I told some guy in Costa Rica that it sometimes doesn’t get dark until after 9pm here, he was startled… and he asked, “What do you do?”. What an interesting question… what do you do with all that extra daylight. Well, the answer, I suppose, is you make the best of it. Much like we’ve all been making “the best of it”. But hopefully we’ve learned something that carries through; something that was very new to us, but blatantly obvious to someone else, someone from whose life we had something to learn, even if we didn’t know it before.

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Day 73 – May 28, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The whole “too many chefs in the kitchen” or “too many cooks spoil the broth” — the thought behind it applies to pretty-much everything in life. Certainly, from experience… having been both the guy being told what do do — and the guy telling others what to do — I strongly believe in it.

One key to success — again, in many facets of life… and I’ve said it often… surround yourself with capable people and let them do their thing. This means understanding that they will do things… differently. Compared to what you would’ve done, it might be better or it might be worse… but it’ll certainly be different. The thing is, as long as you were right — that they were the right person for the job, capable of doing it — it should turn out alright. And this doesn’t mean that person is the one who does everything; it’s just clearly understood that the entire thing, no matter what it is… they answer to it. They can delegate jobs, hire extra people, whatever… but it’s up to them.

The chef/kitchen thing is a great example, actually. One can only imagine the chaos a large-scale kitchen would endure if multiple bosses were screaming out orders. There is a hierarchy, and at the top of it is the head chef. There may be a sous-chef, a pastry chef, a number of others… and multiples thereof. But there is a well-defined tip of the pyramid.

On one particular day… around 20 years ago, three former premiers of this province were all in Provincial Court on the same day. A complete coincidence… Bill Vander Zalm with his Fantasy Gardens scandal, Mike Harcourt with his BingoGate scandal, Glen Clark with his casino-license-for-deck-repairs scandal…. all there for different reasons, but all there to face the music with respect to abusing the public trust in some way, scandals that drove all of them out of office. That’s a SoCred and two NDPers, but corruption crosses all party lines. Subsequent to that came Gordon Campbell, Liberal, ultimately driven from office by the BC Rail Scandal. What is it with B.C. and our elected premiers? Scandalous.

I guess I’m relieved that the guy in charge these days isn’t some wild-west shoot-from-the-hip sort, doing whatever he pleases for personal gain. That would be a disaster in this present climate. John Horgan picked the excellent people with whom to surround himself, Adrian Dix and Dr. Henry, and he’s letting them run with it… and they were the right people for the job, and they continue to deliver outstanding results. This is textbook good management and proper delegation, and we in this province are very fortunate to have it.

Can you imagine a scenario where first Dr. Henry gives her daily update, then Adrian Dix gives his, and then The Premier stands up and discounts all of it? Questions their numbers, questions their strategies, makes up some stuff to suit his narrative? Suggests we ignore what we just heard? What a nightmare for the people listening and trying to figure it all out. That’s perhaps the biggest blessing around here, and perhaps the biggest differentiator than many other places; at the end of the day, our response is being led by a scientist, not a politician. On paper, Dr. Bonnie Henry isn’t the top of that pyramid, but in every other practical sense, she is…. and the consistent messages we get on an almost-daily basis, and their transparency, may well be the biggest reason we’re doing so well around here, compared to even other parts of Canada, where the response has been driven by politicians.

The corruption aspect — at the expense of the greater good — is nowhere clearer than in some of the head-scratching decisions we have seen being made elsewhere. The push to open gyms — enclosed spaces of people breathing heavily and touching many common surfaces? Sure, they have to open eventually… and around here, some are — under strict regulation. But in places where numbers are still rising? You have to look no deeper than the political connections and influence being imposed. That was the easy and obvious part to understand. Political business as usual. Like everywhere. Except the stakes aren’t money; they are people’s lives.

And now, there’s a more serious problem… some of those governors, intelligently ignoring the confusing and conflicting directives coming from higher up, are imposing their own orders… and many people are simply ignoring them, choosing to listen to whomever is in charge, somewhere up there — that agrees with what they want to hear. Many businesses, gyms among them, in numerous states… will be (if they’re not already), defying their respective governor’s orders to stay closed for now. Business as usual.

What a mess, from so many different points of view… legal, health, practical. And when it all goes to hell, the fingerpointing will be fierce. Sure, the mayor said we should’t open, but the governor said it was fine. Yeah, the governor said we shouldn’t open, but the president said it was ok. Unfortunately, those mixed messages may come back to haunt them.

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October 25, 2020

By |October 25th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|2 Comments

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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October 24, 2020

By |October 24th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Follower Favourites, Our Dog|5 Comments

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.


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  • October 23, 2020

October 23, 2020

By |October 23rd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Science of COVID-19, Sports & Gaming|0 Comments

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 … [Continue Reading]


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  • October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

By |October 22nd, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|0 Comments

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 … [Continue Reading]


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October 21, 2020

By |October 21st, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report|0 Comments

You’ll notice some new columns and a new graph today… please join me in welcoming Manitoba to the club.

Manitoba has had a bit of a different journey with respect to the pandemic. Like the rest of the country, things shot-up there in late March and early April… but then got flattened out very effectively. They flared up a bit again during the last week of August, but again they managed to stamp it down. More recently, in the middle of October, they had a pretty bad three days. Where it goes from there remains to be seen. After that spike, it looked like it was tailing off again… but the last couple of days don’t imply a good trend. Either way, now we’re keeping an eye on them as well.

Note to Saskatchewan, The Maritimes and everyone else… I hope you remain insignificant enough that you’re not worth mentioning here. Numbers are creeping up everywhere, including places that haven’t seen cases in a long time. The Yukon reported two new cases a couple of days ago; their last new case had been August 7th. And the Northwest Territories… one new case yesterday, two more today. It’s the first time since April that they’ve seen new cases.

Around here, B.C. saw more than 200 new cases today… the first time it’s ever been over 200 in a 24-hour period.

Similarly, in Alberta… but the number there is 400+. Ugh.

The top Canadian prize still goes to Nunavut… they’re still having none of it.

October 21, 2020

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