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Day 43 – April 28, 2020

By |April 28th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

Our local numbers shot up a bit today, but it’s a lot less concerning that in might have been a month ago, because we know exactly where and why this is happening… almost entirely due to known clusters playing themselves out — and play themselves out they do… some clusters have vanished, some care homes are down to zero and, for the most part, we have a really good handle on things. Things are on their way to re-opening.

Let’s also talk about some different numbers today, and what they imply.

In general, people talk about the stock market being up or down. Also, in general, it’s well understood that it’s good when the market is up, and and bad when it’s down. How does that apply to what’s going on these days?

First of all, let’s quickly define what we mean by “the market”. Everyone has heard of “The Dow”, and how it goes up and down.

The Dow (which refers to the Dow Jones Industrial Average — which is important to note, because there are other “less famous” Dow Jones averages) is an index that tracks, in real-time, the stock prices of a variety of big American companies, including Apple, McDonald's, Exxon, Boeing, Pfizer, Nike, Visa,, Walmart and Coca-Cola. That’s a little cross-section of the bigger mix… a variety of big industry. There are 30 companies that comprise the index, and you have heard of all of them. They are industry leaders, and how they’re doing is a reflection on the economy as a whole, at any given moment. On some days, when things are good and everything is way up, and the Dow will reflect that. Or the opposite, of course.

Today is a good day to use as an example, because it’s a mixed bag. Technology stocks (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook) are all down. Financials (JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, American Express) are all up. Consumer retail shares are a mix (Walmart, Proctor & Gamble are up, Amazon is down). Telecomm is also mixed bag (AT&T is up, T-Mobile is down, Verizon is flat).

Average it all out today, and the Dow is up… a little bit. There are other indexes to look at; the S&P 500 is the next most-commonly known, and it has a broader inclusion of the … [Continue Reading]

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Day 42 – April 27, 2020

By |April 27th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

Purely for the sake of creating examples, I am going to once again virtually kill a lot of people. Please don’t be sad… this is all made up as I go along.

  • Older lady, sheltering with family. All of them became a little sick, but not sick enough to get tested. Some fevers and coughs. She dies in her sleep, but doesn’t get tested. A few weeks later, the family is tested and they’ve all had it.
    – Young man, smoker, high blood pressure. Has a heart attack and dies. Tested and found to have had the virus.
    – Elderly man, tested positive, was doing ok at home, but breathing is becoming difficult. Gets in the car, speeding to the hospital, blows a red light and gets T-boned by a truck. Killed instantly.
    – Young man who, as a result of the lockdown, lost his business and is now losing his home, history of depression, commits suicide. Tests negative.
    – Same example as above, but tests positive.
    – Middle-aged man has a heart attack, rushed to hospital, but massive delay at ER… and dies while waiting for admission. Tests positive. Or negative. Whatever.

    I can come up with lots of “edge cases”, but perhaps they don’t serve much purpose other than to spark an interesting conversation. Some of these are obvious, some are not, and some, one could argue, should be… but aren’t.

    The question you might think I’m about to pose is… what counts as a COVID-19 death… and yes, that’s part of it… but trying to answer just that question… can be quite problematic.

    At the moment, there is confusion and disagreement with respect to what counts and what doesn’t. There is a certainly a big difference between dying of COVID-19, and dying with it. And there’s a lot of grey area in-between the obvious cases.

    To compound the confusion, different jurisdictions have different ways of counting things… and many of them have changed their method as time has progressed. On April 14th, the state of New York changed what counts as a COVID-19 death, adding 3,700 to their count. More recently, Pennsylvania made adjustments that lowered their number by 200.

    My examples above are only a tiny fraction of the sorts of cases one could argue one … [Continue Reading]

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Day 41 – April 26, 2020

By |April 26th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Travel Stories, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

Today is the quiet day with numbers, so not much to say except let’s see how tomorrow pans out. Yesterday’s spike around here is mostly attributable to a few known and developing clusters, but we’re at the edge of the 14-day window after the Easter long weekend… so its effects, if any, may also be coming to light. I’ve just guessed at today’s B.C. number, but for what it’s worth, Ontario today saw it’s lowest numbers for new cases and deaths in two weeks; more signs of everything going in the right direction.

I’ll adjust numbers tomorrow when we get a real update, but for now, with not much more to add, writing yesterday’s airplane post reminded me of something that happened about 20 years ago… just before 9/11, when there was a whole lot less security… almost non-existent in some airports. So I’ll tell you about that.

I was traveling from Chile to Costa Rica, via a brief stop-over in Lima, Peru. The usual pit-stop for fuel and more passengers.

The city of Lima is right on the coast, and the airport is next to the water. Having stopped there before, I knew there had been a time when they'd make you get off the plane and go to the waiting area, where they'd hoped you’d spend your hard-earned dollars on low-grade over-priced Peruvian artisan crap. I guess nobody ever bought anything because now they’d given up; now you wait on the plane. In fact, as punishment, except for those whose final destination was Lima, nobody was allowed off the plane.

The plane lands, the doors open, air-stairs pull up. The plane is out in the middle of the tarmac, so they open both the front and back doors, allowing the lovely midday breeze to flow through the plane. The sickly aroma of trash, rotting fish and jet fuel is a "refreshing" change. The holy trifecta of nauseous smells, all conveniently packaged for your travelling convenience.

They leave the doors open because those guys in orange vests and clean-up people and inspectors and whoever are all walking through, and then the new passengers start getting on as well. The plane's air-conditioning hasn't been turned off during any of it, so the smells are well-infused into the system by the … [Continue Reading]

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Day 40 -April 25, 2020

By |April 25th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|13 Comments

When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike all over the place… without a helmet. Also, when I was a kid, I was taken to many soccer practices and games in the back of a station wagon — the coach’s car served as a sort of team bus… and since I was near the end of the “bus route”… I’d end up thrown in the back, along with the soccer balls and oranges… all of us bouncing along to the endless rhythm of a creaky suspension. And… quick right turns and pot holes… often, the trip to and from the field bruised me up more than the soccer itself.

Such was the spirit of how it was in the late 70s, so it won’t surprise anyone to learn that flying in those days was also a little more lax. On family trips where the plane’s seating configuration was 3-4-3, we would be in that middle section… my parents on the aisles, my sister and I trapped in the middle… and that was ok, because on long flights, one of us would curl up on the two middle seats, and the other on the floor. And, to be honest, I preferred the floor. There was more room there… and sometimes, if we had the bulkhead, we’d both wind up there… sleeping on the floor, for hours. Seatbelts? LOL. The flight attendants would provide us extra pillows and blankets and smile at the cute little kids sprawled out on the carpet.

Back then, you could smoke on planes, and many people did. In my earliest memories, the entire plane was one large smoking pit. But I have an excellent memory of when they instituted a no-smoking section, at the back of the plane. My parents booked seats back there, but when got to our four seats, every other seat around us was already occupied, many of them with people smoking. My father found a flight attendant and asked… aren’t these supposed to be no-smoking? “Oh sorry… yes….” she replied, and then proceeded to velcro onto our four headrests these little fabric “No Smoking” logos. Perfect… problem solved.

I remember that flight in particular… because I sat there, unable to sleep, and inhaling 2nd-hand smoke for 8 hours. And I remember that whole … [Continue Reading]

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Day 39 – April 24, 2020

By |April 24th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Politics, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

Yesterday, I talked about the dinosaur apocalypse… how they were all wiped out. But, to reiterate, the only ones that were fully wiped out were the ones on the ground. As hard as it is to believe, and I know some will take exception to this… but… birds… are not descendants of dinosaurs. They are dinosaurs… the ones that survived that cataclysmic event 65… sorry, 66 million years go.

That cataclysmic event was so… umm, cataclysmic… that it wiped out 75% of all species on earth. That was fortunate for those who survived, because it gave them the evolutionary advantage to thrive, among them… mammals.

It’s a long line of evolution between those mammals and the first hominoids… but it does beg an interesting question; has the human race ever been close to extinction? Terrestrial dinosaurs were around for close to 200 million years. Humans have only been around… well, depends how you look at it. With broad brush strokes, the human animal… maybe 300,000 years… but we only began to exhibit what you might call “modern behaviour” around 100,000 years ago.

What would’ve happened if a pandemic-capable virus had shown up? Not much, because there was next to no overlap of communities distanced by geography. It makes one wonder, how often have there been these sorts of viruses over the centuries? Probably lots. But it was localized, there was no treatment, there was no social distancing… all that happened was a big wave of very sick people dying, and eventually through herd immunity and/or lots of death, the virus made its way through everyone it could, and then disappeared from existence.

But the human race actually did come close to extinction, and it wasn’t that long ago, geologically speaking. Well, this is one theory. It’s interesting, as usual, to research things on the Internet because you can always tell where the conformation bias lies. You can tell what people want to believe, and how they conform their evidence to support their side.

Around 75.000 years ago, there was a massive volcanic eruption — one of the biggest ever. The Toba Supereruption (Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia) erupted and ejected some 2,800 cubic kilometres of magma. That is a staggeringly huge cube of hot, melted rock… and it left behind something the same size as the … [Continue Reading]

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