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Day 10 – March 26, 2020

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

Fun fact: Both South Korea and the U.S. reported their first case of COVID-19 on the same day: January 20. The present-day outcomes are so different that it’s worth understanding what they did (or didn’t), and where our approach, provincial and national, fits in.

The answers are long and complicated and will be discussed and argued for centuries, but it can all be distilled down to one brief and accurate summary: South Korea did a lot; the United States did not.

One thing South Korea did was test the hell out of this thing, as far and wide as they could. They developed and administered thousands of tests almost instantly — like a week — and were quick to isolate those that tested positive. The U.S.… didn’t. They stuck their heads in the sand for a bit, called it no big deal, and did little except stop incoming flights from China… but as far as I know, the COVID-19 virus is not a member of any particular frequent-flyer club. It doesn’t care what airline it flies, nor where the flight originated. Once it’s on the plane and headed somewhere, it’s landing and it’s sticking around.

It was initially thought that community transmission wasn’t a concern… the U.S. thought it, we in Canada (and here in B.C) thought the same; we will find cases, we will isolate them, the cases will resolve and it shouldn’t be a big deal. The risk to you and me is low. A month ago, there were only 7 cases in BC, and all of them could be traced to close contact.

South Korea’s initial jump of cases had a lot to do with their prolific testing, but what comes after is what’s worth noting. Their impressive flattening of their curve has everything to do with their reaction… isolate. And when it became apparent that community transmission was indeed happening, that’s the only reasonable course of action: Social/Physical distancing.

Since our testing hasn’t reached everyone, and since we don’t yet have antibody tests that would tell us who’s already had it, the only reasonable course of action is to pretend everyone has it, and act accordingly. Indeed, the way to think about it isn’t to assume everyone has it… and keep away. It’s to assume you have it, and take every precaution not to pass it along to anyone else.

We are being warned to expect a jump in numbers in the coming days, due to the difference between incubation times and how long it’s been since the directives were brought in. We may see a sharp increase in cases in the coming days… incubation period of 14 days minus 10 days of distancing equals 4 days where we were all potentially wandering around infecting each other. And as those infections kick in, the numbers will rise… possibly quite sharply.

It’s after that period of time that we should start seeing some real effects of what we’ve all collectively been doing. That black South Korea line is what we want. That blue American line, not so much.

On that note, and again, too early to tell… but here in B.C., our growth is, for now, linear. Good news… for now.

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Day 9 – March 25, 2020

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

At some point, we are all having “one of those moments” these days… it can last a minute… or an hour… sometimes, all day. The first thing I do when I update these charts every day is to enter the date, and today, when I entered Mar-25, I had one of those moments.

Seeing that date reminded me… that in some non-pandemic-infested parallel universe somewhere, the Canucks are playing the Sharks tonight, and I have tickets to the game.

I was really looking forward to it… because it was bound to be an exciting game. This is exactly the time of year when we’re typically fighting for a playoff spot, and usually, it’s a situation like the Canucks have to beat the Sharks, but also, the Ducks have to beat the Flames. And it’d really help if the Avs could beat the Oilers, just in case we lose, because then, next game, yada yada…

All of that occurred to me because… wow, do I miss that. I would so much rather be doing that sort of math… than this.

But here we are, so let’s look at these numbers… and hope that one day soon, all of us can get back to the things that feel so incredibly far away right now.

And, for what it’s worth, today was a good day. BC had a good day, and Canada overall did as well.

That yellow BC line looks good… for now. That will change in the coming days, and Dr. Henry was asked about how many cases she thinks are out there, as opposed to just confirmed cases. She will discuss it Friday morning, with some detail on the modelling they’re using to arrive at these estimates. There is a big difference between confirmed cases and actual cases… how big remains to be seen. But at least today, around here, it was a sunny day in many respects.

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Day 8 – March 24, 2020

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

As is often the case with us here in BC, the Wild West of Canada, we’re not always in sync with the rest of the country… and since the majority of people reading this are in BC, I’ve added a whole new set of data and graph… which is us… British Columbia.

I haven’t been following closely other province’s responses. Nationally, yes. BC, yes. But I’m not sure when Ontario or Quebec locked things down, nor the manner in which they did it. The reason that’s relevant is that while we’re seeing some not-so-great numbers out of Quebec today, the last few days here in BC paint a better picture.

We’re still over a week away from seeing the direct impact of the social-distancing order, and numbers will indeed increase between now and then… but the manner in which they increase is important, and for the moment, at least around here, it looks pretty good. The growth is linear, not exponential. At least for now. It’s evident in the BC graph, and it’s very evident when compared to the rest of Canada, which overall continues to pretty accurately track where the US was 10 days ago.

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Day 7 – March 23, 2020

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

The lack of data over the weekend left a bit of a gap… which I filled in with some guesswork. I know where we were on Saturday, and I know where we are now. How we got here looks to be pretty consistent, but the next few days are more important than the last few. We are tracking very closely to the US, trailing by 10 days… just before things started getting really out of hand down there.

It’s important to note that I’m tracking new cases — not active cases. It was good news to hear that 100 cases in BC considered active have been resolved to “cured”. More than 300 in Canada overall.

As time goes on, we can look forward to that number of resolved cases growing, but note that its growth doesn’t affect tracking new cases. Those will always go up. In fact, at some point, it’s (hopefully) likely we will have “negative” days — where there are less new cases than resolved cases… but the idea of these graphs is to simply track the spread (and control) of new cases. What we do with them is a whole other question, and I’ll be happy to offer my opinion on that as time goes on. So far, comparing it to what’s going on elsewhere in the world, it’s pretty good. And will gradually look a lot better if you all just #stayhome!!

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Day 6 – March 22, 2020

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

I don't like posting incomplete data, so stick a huge asterisk next to this… because there was no BC update today, so the Canada number is incomplete. Nevertheless, the other numbers are accurate, so here it is… and with tomorrow's update I will back-fill what's missing from today's and we'll see where we're at.

Hope you all got out for a bit of outside social distancing! Because most of the rest of the week is miserable rain, and for once — Vancouver rain — if that's going to stop people from clustering outside on the White Rock pier or the basketball courts at Kits beach… good.

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Day 5 – March 21, 2020

Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Sports & Gaming|Tags: , |

To put it in very Canadian terms, what you want to see on the graph is for it to not "hockey stick" up to the right. So far… we're good. I keep saying the same thing, but seeing numbers grow isn't bad; it's expected. And linear growth flattening out is the best-case scenario. Exponential growth is what's bad, and as numbers grow, we'll have a better sense. The next several days will tell a lot.

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a really nice day of social-distancing outside in the sun… which means hang out outside, alone or with the people closest to you, ie the people you live with. And stay away from everybody else!

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Day 4 – March 20, 2020

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

We’re still at relatively low numbers, tracking pretty closely to where the US was 10 days ago. It’s a continual rolling 10-day window to see how effective our efforts have been. It’d be really nice to see that red line detach from the blue one and continue straight across with no upswing and it’d also be very nice for our neighbours to the South to see their line flattening out.

The colour coding on the rightmost two columns of numbers signifies change from the previous day. The growth factor is a comparison between today’s new cases vs. yesterday’s. The column to its right is the percentage increase of cases nationwide. Green is good, because it implies a smaller increase than the previous day. A streak of green days in a row would be very nice to see.

Needless to say, especially this early in the game, these numbers are very susceptible to how many tests are being administered and who’s being tested. As time goes on and numbers get bigger and the data is more generalized, it’ll all mean more and be clearer. The localized clusters we’ve witnessed (especially in B.C.) are not indicative of the entire country. If we based our assumptions entirely on what’s unfortunately happened at the Lynn Valley Care Center, we’d be appropriately far more worried.

Shoutout out to Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix, whose 3pm updates are not just informative but also reassuring. And to the sign-language guy… if we are all as passionate in treating this as seriously as that guy is with the way he conveys the message, there’s no doubt we’ll be ok.

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Day 3 – March 19, 2020

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

I added a couple of rows and columns of interest. Mark Twain said something like "Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics". Indeed, there are many ways to paint different pictures with the same colours. This simple chart has grown in complexity and I've received a lot of comments and some criticism from people.

To be clear, and I'm not a statistician… I was curious how Canada's response, at this critical time, looks compared to three other cases… Awful, Bad, Bad-then-good. It's still early to tell, and I have my opinion… but pictures are worth more than words, so here you go.

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September 15, 2020

By |September 15th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Business & Economics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|15 Comments

A bit of an interruption to pandemic news and personal anecdotes… because I wanted to touch on a story that’s a big deal around here.

The first thing I thought, when I heard that Mountain Equipment Co-op was being bought out by Kingswood Capital… was, wow, great, awesome… terrific and unexpected news… that the legendary Joe Segal and his crew would be taking it over… finally, it’ll be in good hands.

Joe Segal is indeed nothing short of a legend in this town… businessman, builder, community leader, philanthropist. A well-deserving recipient of both the Order of B.C. and the Order of Canada. And, to be honest, his business ingenuity might have been what could’ve saved MEC… but, unfortunately, it’s not Joe Segal’s Kingswood Capital that’s taking over… it’s a different one, an American private investment firm… and that’s not great news. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

At best, they will simply strip the company down to a form that makes money, and what might have been left (not much) at the heart and soul of MEC will be gone, and it will now just become another big-box retailer. And, at worst, they’ll just shut it all down and redevelop the significant real-estate assets they’ve now acquired. They’re promising to keep at least 17 stores open and 75% of the workforce. We shall see. Sounds good on paper, and those are good quotes to fall back on next year when they shut it all down anyway and say “We tried, but couldn’t survive the effects of the pandemic…” or whatever other excuse.

MEC will become a SFU Segal School of Business case-study on how to run a gloriously successful business into the ground, through awful mismanagement. There’s far too much to get into here, but it’s a long list of bad decisions, and it’s no surprise to anyone who’s been following MEC’s (mis)fortunes over the years. There has been a grassroots movement to remove the presiding board, for years.

Now that they’ve screwed it up completely, this is really the only course of action. They sold because they’re bleeding money and out of options. When he was young, Joe Segal lost his entire life’s saved-up fortune of $3,000 in one night of poker. He managed to dig himself out of that hole… but the close to … [Continue Reading]

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September 14, 2020

By |September 14th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|10 Comments

There we lots of red ballcaps, American flags, Trump signs, anti-lockdown signs… even a little girl, with a multi-colored sign that said, “Forcing me to wear a mask is child abuse.” It was loud, abrasive… and depending how you look at it, truly frightening, for many reasons. No masks, of course. No social distancing.

But this time, no guns to be seen… wait, how is that possible? There are always some yahoos wandering around with semi-automatic weapons, just to show that their freedom entitles them to do so. Why not this time?

Because this didn’t take place anywhere in the U.S… this was right here at home, yesterday afternoon, outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, at around 3pm. Five hours later, the New Westminster pier was in flames, and much of the historic dock has been destroyed. Eight hours after that, some asshole (once again) cut the cable of the Sea to Sky Gondola, sending the cars crashing to the ground. And all of this going on the midst of an apocalyptic haze, enveloping everything.

We’ve seen better days.

And… we could potentially see even worse ones. Because, you know, I haven’t even mentioned the pandemic yet… but I’m about to, with exhibit A: Israel.

Israel is a country at the forefront of innovative technology, with many tools at its disposal to battle C19, and they’ve done a valiant and impressive effort. Through lockdowns and contact tracing and masks and social distancing, they were a poster child of stamping out and controlling this thing. And then there was a collective sigh of relief, and many things went back to normal and they lived happily ever after.

Or did they.

No… at the end of this week begins their new year. It also begins a mandatory and heavily-enforced three-week lockdown…. because, as per the tipping point I’ve talked about, they hit it… and now it’s a quick descent. At the time of this writing, at least one hospital is turning away C19 patients… because they’re beyond full.

Some quick numbers: after a frightening March and a swiftly-responded-to April, they were down to less than 20 cases a day. Today, they had 4,700… and that’s a country with a population of 9,200,000. Extrapolating the population, it’d be like us here in Canada having 20,000 new cases today (we had 817). … [Continue Reading]

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September 13, 2020

By |September 13th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming|6 Comments

Everyone needs a little escape from reality these days… because as if it weren’t already enough, parts of it are literally burning. Vancouver, presently with some of the worst air quality on the planet? Sure, why not. It’s 2020.

My escape on sunny weekends is to get on my bike for a couple of hours and do my 50 km loop… but, for now, that’s also off the table. Now what.

Well… let’s head to the indoor escapes. For many people, the escape (even if only for a few hours) from the present-day world… is professional sports… and the insanity of this year has led to an interesting occurrence… which was that this last Thursday, every single continent-wide professional league was active. Hockey playoffs are going on, even though the Canucks are out. Basketball playoffs are going on, even though the Raptors are out. Baseball is going, Soccer is going… and now, American Football is starting up. Indeed, just one relevant league isn’t going… having cancelled the entire season, and that is the Canadian Football League.

With no Canadian numbers to report (full update tomorrow) and with no B.C. Lions to watch, I’ve unapologetically spent the entire day watching NFL football… and will continue to do so in about 10 minutes… so for now, I leave you with the most relevant (and most Canadian) joke I know:

It’s Grey Cup weekend, and the big game is being played here, in Vancouver, at B.C. Place. Fans from all around the country are flying in for it, and Level Two – Domestic Arrivals at YVR is a zoo of activity. The luggage carousels are all surrounded by rowdy, excited fans.

An American couple – two tourists, who just happen to be in town, are there as well, clueless as to what’s going on, and they’re amazed at what they’re seeing. In particular, there’s a group of Roughrider fans, already all decked out, dressed and painted proudly in their green and white jerseys, their faces also painted green and white, large horns on their heads, cowbells… the whole schtick.

“What’s up with that? Where are they from?”, wonders the guy out loud.

“Who knows?”, replies his wife, “Why don’t you go ask them?”

“Yeah, ok.”

The guy wanders over to the group of fans… and says to one of them, “Hey there… … [Continue Reading]

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September 12, 2020

By |September 12th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Business & Economics, Travel Stories|5 Comments

September 11th has been a relevant date in my life for a lot longer than 19 years… a sentiment you’ll hear from every Chilean.

Yesterday, you heard my 2001 version… and I was just a little kid, but here’s the 1973 version… events which have some relevance to today.

A bit of history…

In 1964, Eduardo Frei was elected president of Chile. He was the head of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), pretty comparable to today’s Canadian Liberals. He held power until the 1970 election, where it was expected that the CDP, who’d been running South America’s best economy, would be re-elected. Unfortunately for them… well, recall our provincial election of 1996 where Glen Clark and the NDP, with only 30-something percent of the popular vote, won the election — because the Reform Party managed to snag enough votes away from the Liberals to tilt things in that direction — the same thing happened in Chile, a split of the centrist/right-wing vote… except the beneficiary and winner of all that wasn’t a moderate/leftist NDP… it was a full-on Marxist socialist by the name of Salvador Allende.

Economically speaking, things for Chile did not go so well under Allende, and on 9/11, 1973, a CIA-backed coup, supported by the Chilean army, navy and police force… took over the country. Allende committed suicide in the midst of the presidential palace being bombed and overrun by the military. The constitution was suspended. The Republic of Chile, formerly a model democracy, was instantly transformed into a military dictatorship.

All of this was initially supported by the CDP, who expected once things settled down – perhaps a few months — there’d be a general election and things would get back to normal, right? Wrong.

One of military leaders, General Augusto Pinochet, decided he liked the view from the throne. Suddenly, he wasn’t General Pinochet… he was President Pinochet, and there he remained until 1990… and left only after he agreed to hold a plebiscite to let the people decide whether he should be allowed to stick around or not. They voted him out, but not before he embedded all sorts of immunity clauses into the new constitution to prevent new governments from coming after him for his numerous crimes, accumulated over his 17-year reign of terror. What’s the relevance here?

It’s a … [Continue Reading]

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September 11, 2020

By |September 11th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Business & Economics, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|3 Comments

Monday, September 10th, 2001 had been a late night… Monday Night Football combined with Monday Night Poker. It was a good night for me… I won money at the tables, and I won money on the game, having bet on the Denver Broncos. I am always a big fan of betting Denver at home, because they live and breathe and play at more than 5,300 feet above sea level, and visiting teams are rarely conditioned for the thin air. Nearing the end of the game, the other teams are often tired and struggling. In my opinion, it’s a big reason why John Elway was always able to orchestrate his 4th-quarter heroics. In this case, it was the New York Giants (who live, train and play in East Rutherford, New Jersey, elevation… 3 feet above sea level). Accordingly, Denver won the game… a successful evening all around. I staggered home in the wee hours of the morning and collapsed in bed.

Of course, none of that matters at all, especially in light of what happened next. I was awakened just before 7am by a phone call from a friend.

“Turn on your TV.”
“What channel.”
“Any channel.”

Like so many with a similar story, I spent the day watching CNN, barely able to comprehend what I was seeing while frantically trying unsuccessfully to contact anyone and everyone I knew in New York. Eventually, everyone I knew was confirmed to be ok, but I found out years later that I had one friend caught in the middle of it… he was one of those guys who survived, but staggered out of there coated in white powder, debris directly from one of the falling towers, looking like a zombie from The Walking Dead. And he was, of course, one of the very lucky ones.

In hindsight, it’s easy to reflect on just how much changed that day. At the time, it felt like an enormous catastrophe, which it certainly was… but one from which everything would emerge and return to normal. It didn’t. It hasn’t.

Out of the endless things to learn from that day, near the top of the list, is this: Don’t ever acquiesce power to the government that you’re not willing to give away – forever. A lot of things got thrown into … [Continue Reading]

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