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Day 25 – April 10, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature, Internet & Social Media|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

There’s an interesting experiment going on, on the other side of the planet. Our furniture-making, meatball-eating, hockey-dazzling friends in Sweden’s approach to managing this crisis is a lot different than what’s going on around here. We’ve seen a few examples around the world how not to do things. How a few days here and there can have a drastic effect. How not taking it seriously can have big implications. The Globe & Mail wrote about Sweden last week. CNN picked up on it yesterday. Sweden, not a culture that I would associate with recklessness, is taking a huge gamble. If I were a betting man (and I assure you, by any definition of that expression, I am), even I wouldn’t rolling the dice the way they’re doing it.

I will summarize the articles, add a few comments… and something they left out.

To summarize, their schools are open, their pubs are open and there’s no lockdown. Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned, but everything else is left up to the honour system. Trust that others will do the right thing. Recommendations, not orders. Their PM calls it a “common sense” approach. Their chief epidemiologist is saying that it’s working “reasonably well” so far, and that they’ve had “not very much” spread into elderly homes and “almost no” spread into hospitals. In other words, it is, at best, working ok, but it’s in the elderly homes and it’s in hospitals. So basically, it’s everywhere.

Not everyone has bought into the plan… a letter from 2,000 doctors and public-health experts went out, urging the government to get a reality check. But for now… many Swedes get it, and are isolating and maintaining social/physical distancing. But also, many are hosting big family Easter celebrations this weekend. How will it all play out? The articles suggest we’ll know “next month”. I think we’ll know a lot sooner.

A quick look at numbers shows a sharp increase yesterday… like, double the number of new cases from the previous day… a 12% increase, implying a TTD of 6 days… so if that rate remains constant, their 9,000 cases will be 18,000 next week and 36,000 the following week. I will say that the growth rates before that were lower, and as I said yesterday, one day doesn’t make a trend. But the whole thing makes me very uneasy.

Some other numbers that are troubling and not mentioned… once you become infected and are verified by a test, you become a statistic. Your statistic will get modified as time goes on… symptoms or no symptoms, hospitalization or not, ICU or not and so on. The final statistic you will have attached to you is in the “Resolved” category, and it can go one of two ways: Recovered or Deceased. To be clear, this doesn’t include anyone who may presently have it, symptoms or no symptoms… this is exclusively those who definitely had it, and now definitely don’t. At last tally, Sweden had 1,251 resolved cases.

Here are the numbers, for comparison… for all known resolved cases, these are the percentages of those who fully recovered:

South Korea: 97.2%
Canada: 91.3%
Italy: 61.8%
USA: 59.5%

And while we’re here… BC: 94.1% — and that number would be higher were it not for the type of clusters (like long-term care homes) that we’ve experienced here.

And Sweden…? 30.5%.

Out of 10 people in Sweden who’ve had this thing and it’s run it course, 7 have died. Which seriously brings to question how deeply they have their heads buried in the sand. That is a staggering number for a first-world country that claims to have things under control. I hope they come to their senses soon.

Closer to home…

There seems to be some confusion when it comes to physical distancing. Stay home or go out in the sun but don’t get together with others and jog, but away from other people and bike, but not where others do, so bike lanes are sort of not ok, so what’s the deal…

Here’s the deal. You can go out if you pretend the following… pretend that you’re carrying this virus… you’re very fortunate that you have no symptoms, but you’re very infectious… and, if you give this to someone else, the moment you do, a lightning bolt will shoot out of the sky and strike you dead, instantly. Just like that.

So… what do you need do to avoid that? A mask or mouth covering helps… a lot. It doesn’t help you as much as it helps others, but like that parable where everyone’s arms are frozen straight out and everyone fears they’ll starve to death because they can’t feed themselves… well, duh, just feed each other. Everyone wins when you do your part.

When you cough or sneeze, you eject particles into the air…. little droplets within which the virus is carried… and those droplets can hang around, suspended in the air. Not for hours, but for several seconds. While the virus itself is small enough to penetrate most fabrics, water droplets are comparatively much bigger… so wearing a mask is like coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a handkerchief.

Assuming no masks, if you’re walking single file outside with other people (Arbutus corridor, seawall, sidewalks…), maintain a distance of 4 to 5 meters. If the guy in front of you coughs or sneezes, it’s unlikely to reach you. If you’re jogging or slow biking, 10 meters. And normal biking, 20 meters. And if you’re heading towards each other — well, you’re in the wrong place. As much as I enjoy cycling, not there, not now. Someone else just breathing hard, let alone coughing/sneezing — within 20 meters of us approaching each other — I would be breathing his exhaust. I don’t want to do that.

The numbers across the country look good. Flat, or lower… let’s keep at it… and hope that the people who decided to ignore what Dr. Henry and Mr. Dix said about 100 times this week…. “This is not the time to…”, and jammed up the ferry line-ups this morning, and swarmed Victoria and the Gulf Islands — don’t wreck things for all of us.

 

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Day 24 – April 9, 2020

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

Oh, Canada… our home and native land is a lot more relevant to the majority of people reading this, so I’ve made some changes. You will notice that the original graph that started this little daily update is gone. It’s served its purpose, which originally was to map an apples-to-apples comparison of Italy, the U.S. and Canada — with South Korea thrown in for reference — if you were to superimpose their trajectories from a comparable starting point. When that started, Italy was 10 days ahead of the U.S. and the U.S. was 10 days ahead of Canada. On the graph, all of those lines were on top of each other, and it was going to be interesting to watch what happens as time goes on.

To summarize what has happened since… and you can look at yesterday’s final version of that graph to see what I mean (or go back even further and see when things really started to diverge)… The U.S. was actually doing better than Italy for a while, until all hell broke loose… then they burst through that green line and have never looked back. Italy, while still in the midst of their crisis, has definitely seen its curve flattening. Canada, for a while worryingly tracking the U.S., “fell off the bottom” of that blue curve and has comparatively been doing a lot better. The B.C. line, on this scale, is indistinguishable from the X-axis. Indeed, it’s the scale of this graph (linear Y-axis) that has rendered it useless. The unfortunate blue-line numbers will just keep squashing the other lines down, so we retire this graph with full honours, though I will still track the data and update the TTD logarithmic graph of Canada vs. The World.

But there are two new graphs… one, on the bottom left, is exactly what I described above, but just for Canada… with B.C., Ontario and Quebec. You will notice with some degree of curiosity that the Quebec line is above the Canada line… how can that be? Isn’t Quebec still part of Canada? Let’s not have that particular discussion, right here, right now. Yes, of course they are, so what’s the deal?

Nos amis from la belle province, with their usual panache, were simply late to the party. Given that this graph aims to compare apples to apples, its starting point is the same for everyone. Quebec recorded its 100th case March 18th or 19th. On that day, both B.C.and Ontario were around 250 each. Canada’s total was around 800.

Forgetting when it happened, but rather how it happened, Quebec’s numbers were not great for a while; they quickly accelerated at a frightening rate. They went from 100 to 1,000 cases in 5 days… a pace that exceeds Canada’s overall trajectory. The good news for our frères and sœurs is that things have recently looked a lot better. In fact, while numbers keep growing, they are growing more slowly. The “Cases Increase” percentage columns all tell that same story. Social/physical distancing… you know.

Where are the Prairies, the Maritimes, the Territories in all of this…? Listen, you don’t want to be on my charts… I aim to chart the big, significant numbers. Hope you never get so relevant that you need your own data column and squiggly line… anyway, there are only so many colours.

Special shoutout to Nunavut… with respect to this pandemic, they are having none of it. Ha Ha!! (Sorry). But indeed, they’re the only province or territory with zero cases. How it that possible? It’s very simple… the population density of our northern compatriots is 0.02 people per square km. In other words, everyone up there gets their own 50 sq. kms. In other words, go up there and draw a square that’s 7km per side. It’s all yours. It’s also really cold. All of that combined equals automatically-imposed social/physical distancing. And check it out… zero infections. Case closed.

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Day 23 – April 8, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming, Space & Astronomy, Philosophy, Art & Literature|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Back in 2007, a friend approached me. He’d started a company some years earlier, and it had reached a turning point. We talked about what it needed to take it to the next level, and I saw enough potential in it to get involved. He was the CEO, he had a vision, and I shared it. OK, let’s do this. As part of it, I also brought in one of my closest friends, and together we built it from a handful of people to an industry leader. In reality, those two built it with their day-to-day hard work. I just threw in my two bits when needed. Early last year, we sold it to a much larger company. A very nice success story.

Yesterday, I had a Zoom call with those two. One of them is the former CEO. The other is the former president, but still runs what used to be our company as a subdivision.

And it wasn’t a great call… just an update to let us know that our acquirer, themselves now facing top-line revenues that were 15% of original projections, had to let a lot of people go, including many of the key people who’d help build our success story. It knocked our piece right back to 2007. The worst part of it was hearing the names… these great, talented people who’d been such an integral part of building this thing… all out of a job.

Also yesterday, I had a very nice chat with a reporter who covers horse racing. She wrote a very nice article which you can see directly below this post. As much as it was a discussion about me and these posts, it also got into a much larger discussion with respect to the horse racing industry and the people it employs… including her. A sports reporter without any sports to write about… now what.

Like so many businesses and industries and people these days, very few have worst-case scenarios designed to deal with zero revenue. A pub might have a great month because the weather was good and the patio was open and jammed with people enjoying the sunshine. Or what could have been a great April and May were not, because the Canucks missed the playoffs. The guys in the offices have lots of fancy spreadsheets where they plug in numbers and run lots of different “What If” scenarios. But none of them ever plug in zero at the top, because zero at the top means you don’t have a business. Unless you’re Apple, and sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars in cash, you’re presently in completely uncharted territory.

Having had that discussion about horses yesterday, I woke up this morning really missing it. This beautiful sunny morning, exactly the sort of day where in that parallel universe — the one where the Canucks clinched a playoff spot a few days ago and are preparing for round 1 — I’d be heading off to the backstretch at Hastings Park, where I’d park myself at the gap, the rising sun behind me to the East, and watch horses, some of them mine. The smell of the barns, the hay, the horses, the mud. The sound of distant hoofbeats getting louder as the horses approach, and then fade away as they round the turn. The sight of these beautiful animals in full flight, sun glistening and steam rising off their bodies. Words don’t do it justice… but if you’ve never experienced it, that might give you some idea.

And then there’s the people, of course. I miss that crowd… the backstretch of any racetrack is its own society, and for lack of a better way of describing it, a “flat” one. Whether you’re the wealthy owner writing cheques or whether you’re the hard-working groom who’s up at 5am mucking stalls, everyone is there for the same reason, that same passion. Anyone can — and does — talk to everyone else, at the same level. An eclectic collection of peers. But there is also a big difference… for me, this is just a hobby. For them, it’s their livelihood, and in some cases, their home. There is uncertainty at every level.

Those of you who think you’re considered to be nothing more than expendable little cogs in a big machine… I assure you, you’re not. Whether you were writing software or serving beers or mucking stalls… and now, for the moment, are not… there is someone, somewhere… in a cramped little office, after a sleepless night, stressed out looking at a scary-looking spreadsheet. That spreadsheet these days has a lot of red numbers. And that guy feels bad. Really bad. Not because he’s not rolling in the cash, but because he knows you have rent to pay and mouths to feed. He wishes he could do more for you, and in many cases, he does. He wants that light at the end of the tunnel as badly as you. He wants you back at work. He wants to have work to give you.

I think if I ever had to go to prison, and were given a choice…. one option is a 10-year sentence. The other, unknown: you might get out tomorrow. Or, you might never get out. Every day, the same thing. Maybe you’re going home today. Maybe you’re not.

Given what I’m experiencing today… indeed, what we’re all experiencing… I think I might go for the 10 years. That’s a dreadfully long time to be locked away, but at least you can wrap your head around it. Set goals, set expectations, figure out how you’re going to fill that time.

I think what a lot of us are feeling these days is the despair that comes along with the uncertainty. Tell us when we can get back to normal goddammit… just tell us. I get it, and I feel it too. I don’t have the answers either, but one of these days I’ll give my version of what I think that finish line looks like… because there is one… the when and how. It’s on the horizon, but nobody is quite sure how distant… yet.

For now, we’re here today, so let’s look at some numbers…

It wasn’t a great day out East, as far as numbers go… but it’s actually not as bad as the first impression might imply. Ontario saw an increase of 550 confirmed cases, which is a jump of 11.6% from the previous day… but the average increase over the last three days there is only 9.3%… and the 3 days before that were 13.1%. And the three days before that were 17.9%. While I’m at it, let’s do the same for Quebec… their 3-day average daily increase including today is 7.9%. Three days previous, 13.2%. And the three days before that, 17.3%. As far as trends go, this is exactly what you want to see. A one-day spike doesn’t necessarily imply a sudden, drastic turn of events. Indeed, here in B.C. we saw 45 new cases… which is the highest one-day increase in 5 days. But then again, it’s only an increase of confirmed cases of 3.5% over yesterday.

Everyone — just listen to your respective chief medical officers. And if you don’t like what yours is saying, listen to ours — she’s awesome, and she’s right. We’re doing it. It’s working. It’s not magic; it’s science. But we’re not there yet. Stay at home, physically isolate, and do your part… we’re getting there.

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Article in Canadian Thoroughbred – Horse Owner Horatio Kemeny Reaching Many

Categories: Sports & Gaming, News Articles & Interviews|Tags: , , , |

Horse Owner Horatio Kemeny Reaching Many With Informative Posts

Swift Thoroughbreds’ Kemeny has attarcted a large following with his daily graphs and chatty write-ups about BC and Canada’s battle against COVID-19

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April 4, 2020

Categories: Sports & Gaming, News Articles & Interviews|Tags: , |

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Day 22 – April 7, 2020

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

When Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, took to the airways recently to address her nation, it was only the 5th time in her 68-year reign that she had done so (other than to say Merry Christmas). And when I say her nation, I’m not just talking about the U.K., and I don’t just mean the British Commonwealth, whatever is left of it, though it’s somewhat eyebrow-raising to realize that she has been Canada’s reigning monarch for 47% of this country’s existence… but no, her nation is the world. When you reference “The Queen”, nobody asks you which queen you mean. We’re not talking about the queen of Sweden or the queen of Spain or the queen of Bhutan. Or Beyoncé. There is only one Queen.

The rarity of this sort of event underlines its importance. In time of war, in time of national mourning… when everyone needs a serious dose of encouragement.

Before she even opened her mouth, the picture spoke thousand words. The setting was like a glorious painting, liberally sprinkled with meaning. The bed of roses, because life is beautiful, but sometimes a little thorny. The single lamp, off in the distance — the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The blank slate; the future unwritten. The empty office holders — signifying the paralyzing of business — which one day again will hold pens, paper clips and postage stamps (no doubt with her ubiquitous silhouette).

Then there was the Queen herself, looking radiant and royal and confident in green — the colour of nature and Spring and renewal. Her trademark pearls. I looked up what turquoise might represent, because that was the stone at the centre of that incredible brooch: Healing, love and protection. Perfect.

And, of course, there is what she said. The final sentence of her address was this: “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again."

It’s hard not to read that in her voice. Strong, powerful words, spoken with an accent that exudes class and elegance to a level we can only hope to achieve. Those familiar with the history of World War II (and/or the music of Pink Floyd) will recognize the reference to Vera Lynn at the end of it; the war-time song that kept them all together during those darkest of times: “We will meet again”.

Indeed, it’s been a brutally difficult few years for our friends across the pond. Long before this pandemic hit, they were wrestling with Brexit… an enormously complex problem that has no Plan B. It simply can’t be allowed to fail because nobody is sure what that would look like, but they all agree it’s ugly. Very. And in the midst of trying to push it over the finish line, oh, let’s throw in a global pandemic and see how that affects things. The answer is… not well.

There’s a lot to learn from the U.K.’s COVID-19 experience, because their attitude was initially quite different, and its effects are worth exploring.

Their initial assumption that this was just a bad flu that would course its way through the population eventually (and hopefully quickly) establishing herd immunity. It was thought that this would only harshly affect elderly people, and that people whose age was below a certain threshold might get affected, but they’ll get over it, and there’s really no reason to panic because as long as we isolate those at risk (elderly, immunocompromised, asthmatic, diabetic, etc), this shouldn’t overwhelm the medical system.

By the time that attitude was course-corrected and social distancing imposed, things were already launched in a worrying trajectory. This was far more virulent and serious than initially thought. The lockdowns are now in place and how it plays out remains to be seen, but those critical few days of “not a big deal” and people going about their business… have made a big difference. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the fearless leader (and the man tasked with delivering Brexit) was proudly going about shaking hands with people, including those in hospital… only a few weeks before his own positive test. Today he finds himself in the ICU of a London hospital, battling for his life.

Closer to home, where we are all taking social/physical distancing seriously (right?), especially this long weekend with its good weather and where even though there are holidays coming up that are usually big family gatherings, we will do all that remotely (right?) — as Dr. Henry and Mr. Dix keep hammering home, we are in the midst of this. And we are succeeding. They don’t want to come right out and tell you that, but I will. Barring a significant very-out-of-left-field sort of thing, we are looking very good here in B.C. But what sort of thing might that be? Glad you asked, because it’s exactly what they’re telling us… if you go out these coming days and pretend things are ok, and you hang out with family and/or you visit the family cottage, then guess what… things can go from great to gruesome in a hurry.

Our dynamic duo always talk about the coming weeks, but we all know we’ve been cooped up for longer than 14 days, so what’s the deal? The deal is this… if you think things are so good right now that we can just get back to normal, what will happen is a sharp increase in cases starting… well, starting shortly after the long weekend and extending to 14 days past that. And if that happens, if just a few people let up, it can make a big difference. The actions of the coming weeks will make all the difference.

Listen to The Queen. Hang in there. After much to endure, there’s a finish line. We will meet again.

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Day 21 – April 6, 2020

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

When you’re on a plane, approaching the end of a long flight… if you happen to be paying attention at about 30 minutes before landing, you may notice the hum of the engines drop a semi-tone or two. And you will feel the nose of the plane pitch forward slightly. This is the result of the pilots reducing power to the engines, which is the first step of many needed to land the plane safely. It takes about 30 minutes to bring an airliner flying at 35,000 feet and 500 knots down to 0 feet and 0 knots. Indeed, there are ways of doing it much faster than that, and they’re highly not recommended. If you want to get the plane and all its occupants down safely, it’s a process, and that’s how long it takes. But what if we just “dive steeper”? Or just crank the engines and point it down and “go down faster”?

Anyone who’s ever pitched a proposal can tell you what two questions need answering first: how much will it cost and how long will it take. The cost is often negotiable. The “how long” often is not. Some processes can’t be altered nor compromised nor made better nor anything. You want a baby? You need a man and a woman and 9 months. Well, jeez… I’m in a hurry… what if we put 9 men on the job… can we have that baby in a month? Uhhh…. no.

That plane is in the hands of two people who know what they’re doing, and we put our trust in them, and they always seem to deliver. But if you happen to be sitting back in 29B, sitting next to “an expert” who’s explaining to you everything the pilots are doing wrong (“Hey see how that flap extended, man that’s gonna slow us down and burn more fuel, that’s no good, why’d he do that”), then you might understand how I’m feeling today after posting something yesterday that an awful-lot more people than usual read.

I like my plane metaphor, because it’s useful in two directions.

Number one, and more important… today is “double-header” day here in B.C. — we get both yesterday and today’s numbers of new cases, and that can go one of three ways… two wins… or two losses… or a tie. A quick eyeballing of the days leading up to today would imply that anything below a 5% case increase would be a win for either day. Less than 4% on both or either would be great.
The numbers were 2.2% and 3.0%, which are both really excellent. But as our resident captain and co-pilot keep telling us, we haven’t landed yet. Stay in your seat and keep your seatbelt fastened. We’re not there yet. And if you stand up now, we might hit some turbulence and you could get really hurt, or hurt someone else. See? Good metaphor.

Number two, I find it fascinating that everyone who 6 months ago was an expert on impeachment hearings and the way the senate works and immigration and indigenous rights… is today an expert epidemiologist.

The best evidence I have that I’m no expert is that it just took me quite an effort to spell that word correctly. And I don’t claim to be. I am an expert with computers, and I’m pretty good with numbers and I suppose I have a way with words… which leads to this possibly entertaining and hopefully informative but in no way expert opinion of what’s going on around us. Give me some numbers, and I can make some pretty graphs with pretty colours. I can map some tables with pretty informative numbers too. And, if you’re still reading at this point, can evidently write about it in some engaging fashion. I can tell you what’s going on from my own, unique point of view.

I feel the need to mention this so I can address this issue of “the numbers are all wrong so this is all B.S” which I see both publicly and privately. Sure… notwithstanding you’re not even a photographer, those shadows don’t look right and why aren’t there any stars in the background… clearly, the moon landings were faked. And here, give me the controls, I can land this plane. I saw it in a movie once.

These numbers are all we have, and, at present, they are serving us well. Some are straightforward. Some are inferred. Some are assumed. A lot of great minds are coming up with these numbers, and they’re in-line with what we’re experiencing. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, and I’m only going with what the credible sources tell us, but in general, those numbers are lining up with the associated experiences around the world. I am also, along with everyone else, waiting for the local emergence of a quick and accurate at-home serological antibody test… the test that will detect whether you’ve ever had the virus. And not just here. Everywhere. Actual science, not guesses and assumptions based on ignorance or hope. That will answer a lot of questions. That will verify the numbers. Or prove them all wrong.

Either way, until then, I’m going with the science.

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Day 20 – April 5, 2020

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

When the historians who will ultimately document the great pandemic of 2020 begin their work, they will be asking themselves some tough rhetorical questions, many of which will begin with the words, “I wonder why they didn’t….” Indeed, some of those questions are being asked today, in the present tense, and good answers are not forthcoming. When those historians finish their books, most of them will have a chapter titled, “The United States of America”. Often, underneath the chapter name, there is a chapter subtitle… sometimes a little more detail, sometimes a quote. Usually in italics… you know what I mean. This particular subtitle will say:

“I don’t take responsibility at all” — President Donald J. Trump, March 13, 2020

Today is Sunday, “silent day” here in B.C., where the people upon whose words our futures (near and far) may depend, take a well-deserved break. Indeed, as loud as it gets at 7pm every night around here… it gets just as quiet at 3pm on weekdays when the only words you might hear are, “Shut up — Dr. Henry is speaking”. Today is their day off, so my B.C. number is just a guess bases on the averages of last week — I will fix it tomorrow when we get real data. But I’m guessing it’s pretty close.

Until recently, none of us had even heard of Dr. Bonnie Henry… but now, we all want to adopt her. And it’s not just the calm, soothing voice of reason that’s so enchanting… it’s the actual substance of what she’s saying. She’s not making it up as she goes along. She’s not up there to make herself look good. She’s not up there incoherently throwing blame around. She’s surrounded herself with excellent people who she consults on a continual basis. She’s not afraid to admit she was wrong, and, accordingly, she’s willing to course correct… which, if you read back on the evolution of this emerging pandemic in B.C., has happened more than once. She is, in every sense of the word, a leader.

On the day Donald Trump spoke those words, there were 2,300 known cases of COVID-19 in the USA. By that point, Italy was well aware they had a serious problem on their hands. They were at close to 20,000 cases and growing quickly, and they had begun throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at it in every feasible way. Pandora was out of the box, and the trajectory was not looking good. Everybody was paying attention, and everyone was making plans.

In Canada, on that day, there were 198 known cases, 64 of which were in B.C. If we were to map our growth rates to match what’s happened in the U.S., Canada would presently have 29,500 cases (we’re at 15,500) and B.C. would have 9,500 (we’re at 1,250 or so). And Italy, had they continued that same trajectory, would presently be looking at 26,300,000 — an unlikely number for other reasons, but that’s what the math implies if you leave this thing alone to propagate unchecked in an environment that could support that growth.

On March 13th, here in B.C., the only orders that were In place were that travellers returning need to self-isolate for 14 days, and that all gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled. Physical distancing as we know it today had not yet been implemented. And as we all know, a lot has changed since then… here, at least… not the least of which are the social distancing orders.

There are places in the U.S. at this moment where none of these sorts of orders are in place, and if they are, they are not being taken seriously or enforced. It boggles the mind to think that while we’re having a quiet Sunday here, there is a church in Louisiana where today 26 busloads of people arrived for services. People want to start talking about how we emerge from this, and it’s a complicated question because the world is a complicated place, where lots of different things are going on in lots of different places. The answer to how and when B.C. emerges from this will likely be very different than Louisiana.

B.C. has a population of 5 million. Louisiana has a similar population of 4.7 million.
On March 13th, B.C. had 64 cases. Louisiana had 77.
Today, we have 1,250 cases. Louisiana has 9,150.

What a difference real leadership can make.

 

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September 20, 2020

By |September 20th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Philosophy, Art & Literature|3 Comments

The air has finally cleared… unlike my schedule… so just a brief note before tomorrow’s numbers come out, because I am going to enjoy the usually-taken-for-granted crisp, fresh air.

The AQI at the moment is 18, which is exactly what it was before the fires, and about as good as it gets. For a week, it was fluctuating between 150 and 225, which is labelled Unhealthy at best, Very Unhealthy at worst. And to be clear, this only means our problem has gone away (for the moment) … the AQI is 450 in some parts of California. Anything above 300 is labelled Hazardous, as in don’t breathe the air outside or you’ll likely get sick.

Not like there isn’t enough to occupy your time on the internet… but waqi.info is an interesting site. A world map of AQIs, and you can hover and zoom around easily. At a glance, you’ll quickly notice (as I have over the last week) that many places around the world are perpetually stuck with bad air. Parts of Brazil, India… and, of course, China.

It's good site to check out next time it’s pouring rain and you’re stuck at home… for two reasons. One to see that it could be a lot worse, and two to remind us how fortunate we are to live in a part of the world where the air scrubs itself. I wish my schedule could do the same.

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September 19, 2020

By |September 19th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories, Space & Astronomy, Philosophy, Art & Literature|10 Comments

For a while, I was putting in guesses for the weekend numbers… since neither B.C. nor Alberta publish anything until Monday. I was further extrapolating that to give a good guess for Canada overall.

I’ve stopped doing that, because as good as my guesses were (sometimes), it’s effectively false advertising and could lead to false assumptions, so what’s the point. Let’s wait 2 days; no big deal.

Unfortunately, false advertising is all around us. I actually fell for it… something popped up on my Facebook… a radio-controlled near-indestructible plane. Surprisingly inexpensive. Cool, that’ll be fun to play with over the summer. For my son, of course, not me…

What arrived was nothing like what was promised. A tiny, very cheap single-layer Styrofoam cut-out stencil of a plane… that barely flew. No radio control of course. Nothing at all like the pictures or video. And, for the price-point, not worth pursuing, not worth sending back, not worth complaining. They know; just enough to grab your money and run. Not enough for any consumer silly enough to fall for it… to care. Had I done the tiniest bit of research, like read the comments below the item, I’d have seen plenty of entries like “Don’t fall for it!!” and “This is a scam!!”. Oh well, lesson learned.

Indeed… as a result of falling for it, my FB feed is now flooded with offers. Some are, I must say, really cool. Most, if not all, are scams. I fell for it once, and FB has decided I’m a sucker and, accordingly, tries to sucker me in one more time. The latest one that almost got me was a self-solving Rubik’s Cube for $12.99. Wow, cool… except, upon reading the comments, I learned it was a useless, cheap knock-off cube that did nothing special… least of all, solve itself.

Somewhere along the line, slim credibility went to zero… probably right around the time accountability did the same thing. With zero repercussions to just “making shit up”, here we are. Advertisers, politicians, whatever. Say whatever you want… to sell whatever you’re dishing out.

"Caveat Emptor" — it's been around so long that "Buyer Beware" originated in Latin, back in the Roman era. You remember, that great Republic of centuries past, that indestructible centre-of-the-universe Empire that would last forever.

What's the relevancy … [Continue Reading]

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September 18, 2020

By |September 18th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics|5 Comments

Looking at today’s B.C. number is sort of stressful. Although 40 of today’s 179 are “retrofitted” cases… ie cases that should’ve been counted earlier but weren’t… it’s a lot, no matter what.

There’s a well-known test, the 43-question Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (you can find it online) which adds up different things going on in your life, and lets you know how at-risk you are to get sick, as a result. If you’re presently dealing with that particular issue, you simply add the associated points to your total.

It’s interesting to note that while the majority of points are assigned for negative things, such as:

Death of a spouse – 100
Divorce – 73
Jail term – 63

… many positive things (or, at least, that should be positive) also cause stress:

Marriage – 50
Outstanding personal achievement – 28
Vacation – 13

There’s no broad 5th category that you could label “Pandemic”, but I’ve taken the liberty of filling this out for all of us; we’re all going through some similar things, and here’s how they add up:

Revision of personal habits – 24
Change in work hours or conditions – 20
Change in recreation – 19
Change in social activities – 18
Change in number of family get-togethers – 15
Change in eating habits – 15

All of that adds up to 111, which is, on its own, ok. Anything below 150 puts you in the “only low to moderate chance of becoming ill in the near future”.

Unfortunately, that was painted with pretty broad brushstrokes, and many people are, as a result of the pandemic, also dealing with things like:

Change in health of family member – 44
Change in financial state – 38
Change in number of arguments with spouse – 35
Change in church activities – 19

And the list goes on.

Between what we all have in common, and 150, there isn’t much wiggle room; just 39 points to cram in all your other stresses, because north of 150 is categorized as “moderate to high chance of becoming ill in the near future”.

Something not on that list is “Heading a national strategy for combating a global pandemic”… but if I had to assign a score to it, I’d give it a 185… and … [Continue Reading]

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September 17, 2020

By |September 17th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Life in Vancouver, Philosophy, Art & Literature|10 Comments

Not a great day for numbers… our one-day new test-positives total is the largest one to date: 165 new cases. To compare, Ontario had 146. And Quebec, once looking to have had things under control… saw 499 new cases. More than 1,000 new cases in Canada, for the first time since late May. We’re going to run out of chances to say, “last chance”.

Also, for those around here… most of didn’t know much about pandemics until March of this year, but we’ve learned a lot. Similarly, few of us knew much about of smoke and haze and bad air, but here’s 2020 to educate us all.

The one question everyone is asking… when will the smoke clear? I must say, I was disappointed when it recently rained (pretty heavily) and nothing much changed. Historically, isn’t that the deal in Vancouver? Some things are implied trade-offs… like, you go to a movie… they get to charge you $5 for 10 cents worth of popcorn. Correspondingly, you get to leave it spilled all over the floor and not feel guilty about it.

Similarly, ok, rain on us… but crisp, fresh, clean air is (supposed to be) part of the deal. As it turns out, it’s not so simple.

The short answer to the question is… complicated. Rain, wind, time, high/low pressure… potential new smoke… it all contributes in some fashion, but the consensus seems to be that by the middle of next week, things should clear noticeably. But as far as the weekend is concerned, not much is likely to change.

There’s an app called “Shit! I Smoke” which translates the air quality number to equivalent number of cigarettes. If you were out and about earlier in the week, you “smoked” the equivalent of more than 8 cigarettes a day. Ugh… as if you need one more reason to wear a mask…

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September 16, 2020

By |September 16th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories|8 Comments

Today’s brief update will simply be about some simple numbers and some simple math.

Let’s say 100 people catch Covid-19… and struggle through it, till they’re either cured or dead… if 93 survived and 7 died, let’s write it down as 93/7. Looking around the world, here’s a brief sample of how that looks in different places:

United States: 95/5
China: 95/5
Canada: 93/7
Mexico: 87/13
Italy: 86/14

It’s annoying that some places have stopped publishing their recovery numbers. I’d be interested in throwing Sweden, U.K. and Spain into that mix to see how they compare.

The best ratios out there seem to come out, at best, 97/3.

If we just add up the entire planet — there have been almost exactly 30,000,000 cases – and the global ratio is 96/4.

The implication of that is that the true potential extent of this virus, should everyone on the planet get it, would mean a little over 300,000,000 deaths; simply 4% of the world’s 7.8 billion people.

Fortunately, there’s every reason to believe… through social practices and herd immunity (one way or the other), that nothing close to that will end up transpiring. But it’s always worthwhile to look at all the scenarios, and as far as the worst-case goes – there you have it.

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