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Day 45 – April 30, 2020

By |April 30th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Life in Vancouver, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

On my list of lifetime achievements, there’s one I’m particularly proud of… because it’s one that many people have attempted, but very few have succeeded… and it’s this: I fought a speeding ticket in court, and won. Not because the cop didn’t show up; he did, and we had a nice chat before we went in to the courtroom. I outlined exactly what I was going to say to the judge, and the cop listened thoughtfully to everything I said… and then unilaterally decided to drop the case. We walked into the court, he announced that that crown had chosen not to proceed on these charges, and aside from a rather curious look from the judge (I guess this doesn’t happen that often), that was it. Case dismissed, and I walked out of there 3 points and $138 wealthier than when I walked in.

I had a lot of arguments that I threw at the cop, but I think the one that resonated most was this… that while I was indeed speeding as measured against the number painted on the sign at the side of the road, so was everyone else. In fact, when he stopped me, I asked him… why me? Everyone is going the same speed here. And he agreed; he even said so… “I could’ve pulled over any one of you”.

If you assume, for the most part, that the majority of people aren’t idiots, then you can rightfully assume that, for the most part, people, when acting in their own self-interest, might be mirroring what’s in the best self-interest of the greater good. Yes, I do understand the other point of view… because I often feel it while driving… that guy who’s driving slower than you: idiot. That guy that speeds past you: maniac. Those are the two types of drivers that exist, besides you, who’s the only one doing it properly. But the reality is that at any given point, we’re someone else’s idiot or maniac… and when you average it all out, most of us are in the same boat.

If the speed limit is 50 — well, actually, forget the posted limit for a moment. Granville St. on a quiet sunny Sunday morning at 7am in the middle of Summer… vs. Granville St. at 6pm on … [Continue Reading]

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Day 44 – April 29, 2020

By |April 29th, 2020|COVID-19 Daily Report, The First 100 Days, Business & Economics, Science of COVID-19, Travel Stories, Sports & Gaming, Philosophy, Art & Literature|0 Comments

It’s an interesting thing, this North American attitude… often found in sports. The great American pastime, baseball… there are no ties. The game can go into extra innings, which in turn can end up going on longer than the original game itself. In playoff hockey, same thing… full 20-minute periods until someone scores. Recall the famous Canucks/Stars playoff game that went into a 4th overtime — more OT than the 3 periods that preceded it. And hockey is a good example; there used to be ties in the regular season. And then… no, let’s decide this… they added overtime… and for a while, if the game ended in a tie after overtime, it remained a tie. But that wasn’t good enough… so, shootout. There will never be a tie again. There must be a winner. The most American of all games… the NFL actually allows ties, but there’s OT, with rules that make it almost certain one team will win. The only reason it can’t go on forever is that after more than 4 quarters of football, injuries are far more likely. There’s maybe one tie a year in the NFL; It’s rare, and nobody likes it when it happens. And NBA basketball? They will play overtime forever until there’s a winner.

On the flipside, the most popular sport outside of North America — soccer (fútbol!) — allows ties. What’s the difference in attitude?

I used to think it was attention span. Soccer holds your attention, sometimes for several minutes, between whistles. Hockey, same thing, which is perhaps why it’s not as popular as some of the others (especially in the U.S.). But football, baseball and basketball… endless time between action; time to discuss what just happened. Time to analyze it. Time to replay it, in slow motion, from different angles. That’s what I used to think, but no. What it simply is…. is that we just like to have a winner. After the big battle, a tie is just too unsatisfying.

It’s going to turn out that this virus is not as lethal as we initially thought… but, also…. it’s nowhere near as safe as a common cold or flu. The typical flu kills 0.1% of those it infects. COVID-19 seems to be somewhere between 0.4% and 3.4%. Let’s call it 2% … [Continue Reading]

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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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