February 26, 2021

When you bash your finger with a hammer, yelling out “Golly!” doesn’t quite have the same clout, effect and/or relief than some other choice word. Why is that? There’s actually a word that describes it:

Lalochezia: (n.) the emotional relief gained from using abusive or profane language

We grow up attaching “value” to certain words, and that emotional release they offer is the payoff for all the investment over the years… the small outbursts and exclamations load the profanity cannon, ready to blast when needed. And it’s all inward-facing. There’s nothing magical about the words we all use, and if we’d grown up in a household where different words were used as exclamations of the sort, we’d have learned those associations instead… and then, when you’re in the parking lot of the supermarket and slam your finger shut with your car door, whatever you scream out wouldn’t be met with looks of disapproval from nearby mothers with small innocent children who’ve obviously never heard such vile language. Ah, what a great memory.

Interesting though… for those who speak more than one language… can you swear “effectively” in something other than your primary language? Of course you know all the bad words (it’s the first thing you learn in any new language…) but does it have the same effect?

I was out riding my bike today, lost in thought. A beautiful sunny windy day… perfect.

The vast majority of the time, I think in English… but I was composing a business letter in my head, in Spanish, so that’s where my brain was at when someone decided to walk straight onto the bike lane, crossing it without looking. I slammed on my brakes and skidded to a stop; nobody was hurt, but I did instinctively find myself yelling out a profanity… and so, one might wonder… in what language?

The answer is… English. Whatever fight-or-flight reflex that gets triggered… whatever part of the brain gets activated in this situation… it’s separate from the intellectual part, regardless of whatever language in which it was currently engaged. I switched instantly from intellectual, verbose Spanish… to one single well-known English word. And, in doing so, switched my brain entirely back to English, in which the ensuing conversation took place.

For those pedestrians who also enjoy the sunny windy beautiful fresh air, do keep in mind that if it’s a bike lane, the bikes have the right of way. And if you screw up and walk in front of a bike, causing the cyclist to slam on the brakes and instinctively yell something, don’t get all indignant. Just apologize and move on. Nothing got hurt except your fragile ego. You have the right to be pissed off… just not at me.

Speaking of pissed off, there will be a lot of pissed-off anti-mask, anti-vax, anti-intelligent people, who were all ready to invade the BC Ferry service and head to Victoria for Freedom Rally tomorrow. Thanks to high winds, all sailings are cancelled. How unfortunate. Perhaps they can quickly organize something locally. Given the wind situation, might I suggest… to all of them… go fly a kite.

And for everyone else, here it is in eloquent Spanish, now that my brain is back in that mode: Espero que tengan un muy buen fin de semana y que disfruten!

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December 30, 2020

Completely unrelated to everything… just a random thought.

While stereotypes often exist for a reason – there’s usually some fundamental tiny grain of truth to them and/or some origin that can be pointed to – I don’t really understand this “Karen” meme.

The name Karen has now come to imply the proto-typical entitled white woman with an attitude… the “I’d like to speak to the manager” Karen or the call-the-cops-on-someone-Black-for-no-reason Karen or, more recently, Coronavirus Karen who proudly won’t wear a mask in public, is anti-vaxx, and might even cough on you if you get too close.

With respect to the Karens (and Karins) I’ve known throughout my life (I counted 9), all of them have been (and continue to be) kind, caring, empathic and thoughtful people. Like, exceptionally so. Statistically, at least one of those nine should be this stereotypical “Karen”… but no, not in my case. On the flip side, I know exactly 4 people with a different same name who are all, coincidentally, awful people – for their own, individual reasons. That’s also statistically off the charts.

This got me thinking, and I went off hunting for the origins of this whole Karen thing… but there’s no real answer; only speculation. It might be from a bit comedian Dane Cook did in 2005. It might be from a scene in “Mean Girls”. It might be from some Reddit thread where a guy continually complained about his ex-wife Karen, to the extent entire new SubReddits were created for the specific content.

Just like attaching “-gate” to something implies scandal… locally, we’ve had Bingogate, Ferrygate, Robogate, Tunagate… Chrétien had his Shawinigate… the world has created hundreds of -gates over the years… all spawned after Nixon’s Watergate scandal… now we have lots of different Karens.

There was an actual hurricane named Karen in 2019. There was an actual woman in Australia named Karen recorded trying to tear down her neighbour’s Aboriginal Flag. Other than that, it’s just a label:

Permit Karen who called police on her Black neighbours installing a patio.

Whitefish Karen, arrested after intentionally coughing on people after being told to wear a mask.

Kroger Karen, who stood in front of a Black woman’s car to block her from leaving a Detroit grocery store parking lot while she called police to report… that the woman’s child had stood on a shelf to take down an item too high to reach.

San Francisco Karen, who called the police to report a Filipino man stenciling “Black Lives Matter” on a retaining wall… on his own property.

Bunnings Karen, who threatened to sue the hardware store Bunnings for requiring her to wear a mask.

So prolific has the term become, it’s made its way to men as well; Donald Trump has been called the “Karen in Chief” and Elon Musk was labelled “Space Karen” after a stupid Tweet.

Endless Karens.

Back in July, Domino’s in Australia ran a campaign… offering free pizza to all the “nice Karens”. It went OK in Australia, but it faced backlash in New Zealand… where the campaign was pulled and Domino’s had to apologize. The campaign itself got “Karen’d”.

More recently, in October, San Francisco passed an act to prohibit the fabrication of racially-biased emergency reports. It was named the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act.

It looks like the whole Karen thing is here to stay… which is unfortunate, especially for all the people named Karen/Karin/Karyn/Caryn/Caren and whatever other spelling I may have missed. Shoutout to all of you… I’m sure you’re all awesome people.

Well… most of you. Unless you’re an actual Karen.

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December 27, 2020

Here’s another word you may not have heard of… though it’s been very relevant this year, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. The word is: Agnorant

Interestingly, the word has been around for a while… more than ten years. Somehow, I never heard it till recently… though I’ve been dealing with what it describes for a lot longer than that. We all have.

“Agnorant” is simply a combination of Arrogant and Ignorant… and wow, are there many examples, especially these days… and the primary topic-du-jour is vaccines, where, magically, thousands of people who’ve researched it (if research means sitting on the toilet scrolling through curated, nonsensical content) have decided they know more than real experts, and will happily and arrogantly shove down your throats the results of said research.

“Did you know the vaccine has mercury in it? Mercury is toxic… why would you knowingly inject yourself with something toxic?”

There’s a lot wrong with that statement, but just for fun, and especially if someone says that to you, here is the response:

“The mercury found in vaccines is in a compound called Thimerosal. Actually, the mercury component of that is itself a compound call ethylmercury… which the body has no problem eliminating quickly and efficiently. Unlike the mercury in fish, the accumulation of which can certainly be toxic, it’s not a concern in this case.

“But it still has mercury in it.”

“And table salt has Sodium, which on its own will kill you. And it has Chlorine, which on its own will kill you. But as a compound of Sodium Chloride, it’s salt. That’s the beauty of chemistry; they characteristics of elements change significantly when you combine them.”

“Yeah, that’s what they want you to think. That it’s safe, but I know it’s not. I read this whole thing about how Bill Gates is making billions off this vaccine. You’re just a brainwashed sheeple like the rest of them.”

“Sure. Also, the Covid-19 vaccines don’t have Thimerosal in them.”

“That’s what they want you to think.”

If you’re reading this carefully, perhaps you caught the moment where it turned the corner from rational discussion to all-out conspiracy nonsense. But either way, the Agnorance is there.

The comments sections below many of these posts have some excellent Agnorant content… but then again, and all comments sections these days can say the same.

It’s been written… “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – actually, the poem by Alexander Pope begins like this:

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring”

In other words, either know what you’re talking about, or shut the hell up.

Oops… sorry. That probably came across a little bit… agnorant.

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December 9, 2020

The denouement (n. the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved) of this pandemic is starting to take shape… and it looks very different, depending where you are. We keep thinking we’re doing ok here in Canada, because we always like to compare ourselves to our neighbours to the south and, indeed, comparatively speaking, things look good here. The problem with that is how catastrophically bad they are in the U.S., and getting a lot worse before they get better. It’s too soon to know how it’ll all play out, but right around the time Trump leaves Washington, three weeks after New Year’s, the scope of how bad it can get will be clearer.

On that note, the denouement of the Trump presidency had the potential to serve up some serious craziness. To some extent, it still does, but now… we’re approaching the last few pages of the last chapter… and things are more likely to close out with a whimper than a bang.

There had been the not-so-irrelevant concern that his stacking of the Supreme Court with hard-core loyalists might actually be phase one of a complete takeover and the end of democracy. What would’ve happened if the SCOTUS had actually played into his bullshit? Thankfully, we’ll never know. They tossed out his claim quickly and firmly with zero dissents. Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania… take your pick. Throw in the other 46 states; Red or Blue, they all have something in common… certified, counted, verified, stamped-for-approval votes. From every legal point of view, Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

The only thing left in Trump’s arsenal would be a full-on civil war… call his boys on standby to take to the streets and show them who’s boss. The issue with that is that no matter what pathetic uprising he may try to instigate, it would be quickly extinguished, and then Trump would be facing one more charge to add to the wall of legal issues he’ll slam into at 100 MPH on January 20th… and that would be treason. That one doesn’t carry jail time; that one carries the death penalty.

None of that will happen. With this sort of stuff, Trump seems to be “big hat, no cattle”. He will retreat to Florida, where, at least, his home is safe. If you’ve ever wondered why criminals and mob bosses wind up in Florida, here’s why…

There exists something called Homestead Creditor Protection. Every state has a different version of it, but basically, it’s how much of your home equity is untouchable by creditors. Even if you’re bankrupt and have to liquidate everything you own to pay off your debts, if your state’s Homestead Exemption is $350,000 and your home is worth less than that, you won’t be forced to sell it. You’re allowed to keep your home, up to the value of the exemption, no matter what… no matter how bankrupt, sued, liable and/or kicked-to-the-curb you are, they can’t take your home. And Florida is the only state where that limit is… unlimited. Like Tony Montana and his mansion and pool and helicopter pad and artificial lake and flamingos and tigers, all the money tied into the primary home and property is untouchable.

Trump bought the second largest mansion in Florida, Mar-a-Lago (126 rooms, 62,500 sq. feet), for $10,000,000 back in 1985. Through property appreciation and extensive renovations, it’s now worth around $160,000,000… and the only way for it to be exempt from seizure would be that it has to be his primary residence. Accordingly, that’s where he and Melania are planning to set up shop.

There had been visions of Trump, at some point, being dragged out of the White House, kicking and screaming. That’s not likely to happen either… but, down the road, from his Mar-a-Lago…? Who knows. At least they’ll know where to find him.

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October 29, 2020

An excellent scene in one of my favourite movies, “The Princess Bride” involves one guy continually using the word “inconceivable” … and another guy eventually saying to him, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

But the word we’re going to discuss isn’t that one… the word of the day is “freedom”.

Americans seem to think they have a monopoly on “freedom”. Hey guys… up here – we’re free too, you know. In fact, of the 206 recognized sovereign nations, the vast majority are also free.

On the list of countries that are not so free, you’ll find places like China, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela… places that are perpetually in the news, often for the wrong reasons, and that’s why perhaps we never hear about the rest of the world. Uruguay? Bulgaria? Mongolia? They all have their own problems to navigate, like any other sovereign nation… but their people are free, by whatever definition you want to apply. But perhaps since the U.S. isn’t meddling in their affairs, you never hear about them.

Somewhere along the line, the meaning of “freedom” has lost its way, especially by those who’ve never experienced the lack thereof. Anyone who’s been born and lived all their lives in the U.S. (and Canada), no matter how old they are, has never lived under a government that didn’t offer them freedom. Yet even today, more than half the world’s population lives without the basic freedoms we all take for granted.

It’s hard to put it in terms for people who’ve never experienced it, so let’s compare it to something relatable.

I’m old enough to remember well when smoking was ubiquitous. Ten-hour airplane flights so full of smoke you couldn’t even see the screen of the movie playing 20 rows ahead. Tiny no-smoking areas in restaurants, if any. Everyone smoked back then, whether directly or second-hand.

When smoking bans were proposed, there was a huge uprising… and the word freedom was thrown around a lot. It’s my right, it’s my freedom, all the bullshit arguments you can imagine. And it goes back to what I said yesterday; nobody wants to infringe on anyone’s rights. You want to smoke at home? As long as the smoke doesn’t bleed into someone else’s space, go right ahead. You want to smoke alone in the middle of nowhere, go right ahead. You want to smoke in a crowded boardroom because it relaxes you and helps you gather your thoughts? Too bad. Because what you feel you’re entitled to is not as important as other people’s health and comfort. Go outside.

Yes, you will be inconvenienced and perhaps feel offended… but everything about that situation is up to you. You are free to make those choices. And if you still want to scream about rights and freedoms, perhaps a little history lesson… or perhaps, just a present-day history lesson… of people who can’t leave where they are, can’t say what they want to say, aren’t free to participate in the religion or partnership they wish to pursue. *That* is a lack of freedom. Not you having to step outside to smoke where it doesn’t bother anyone else. There’s no issue of freedom there. That’s just part of living in a civilized society that’s decided that the harm inflicted by cigarette smoke is not something anyone has the right to impose on someone else.

Similarly, can we just cut the crap with masks and freedom? It’s not the end of your world to act responsibly for the benefit of us all. You’re not being deprived of some fundamental right, unless you feel that putting others at risk is something to which you’re entitled. This is temporary and this is necessary.

I’m well aware that there are people who’ll read this and still not get it, tossing aside the science and common sense. So just get this…. shut the hell up already with claiming someone is infringing on your rights. Nobody is making you wear a mask when it’s not called for. Smoke at home. Cough and sneeze at home to your heart’s content. But while there’s a virus going around that threatens us all, simply do your part. If you’re around other people, do what’s asked… or, just don’t be around other people.

See how easy that is? You *are* free – free to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with someone else’s basic rights. I have the right not to inhale your cigarette smoke. I have the right not to inhale your Covid-19. I would hope for most people, this is pretty clear… though I’m also very clear that for a lot of people, this is… inconceivable.

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August 6, 2020

I’m back in Vancouver for a bit… just in time for some Vancouver weather, it seems. As accurate as weather reporting has gotten over the last several years, if all else fails… here’s your local weather forecast: Cloudy, sunny periods, chance of rain. You can’t go too wrong with that.

Where you *can* go wrong is a different sort of forecast: Pandemic, irresponsible gatherings, chance of spreading. We presently have over 400 people in quarantine and a significant number of new cases, all due to one party… and it’s quite possible that at that party, it was just one person who had it. I know it’s impossible, but if every single person isolated properly and responsibly for two weeks, this virus would be wiped out, locally at least. Of course, that’d require properly sealed borders, not leaking Americans traveling to and from Alaska (wink wink) and all of the flights arriving from all over the place with people who refuse to properly isolate.

Summary – it’s still up to us to keep doing what we’ve been doing so successfully up to now, because if we don’t… well, maybe it’s time for Dr. Henry to get a little more harsh. Heading into September on an upswing of cases is bad, for numerous reasons. If one person can infect 40 and affect 400, consider the implications when the weather turns bad and we’re all forced inside. As per yesterday, no Deus ex Machina is going to resolve this. We’re on our own.

Word of the day…

Rückkehrunruhe (noun): The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.

Indeed, being immersed in the present-day of city life and Vancouver weather will do that to you. It’s still summer, right?


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July 16, 2020

It’s been one of those days where I haven’t had much time to think, let alone write anything… so I will simply dig into my trove of cool words and pull out this beauty:

Semaphorism (noun): a conversational hint that you have something personal to say on the subject but don’t go any further—an emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I know the feeling’—which you place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground: maybe a cable that secretly powers your house, maybe a fiberoptic link to some foreign country.

I didn’t write that definition; I literally cut-and-pasted it… but I’ll give you my 2 cents, because, like some many oddities these days, it’s relevant.

I’m finding that as things migrate from the complete “WTF is going on” that we all felt in March and April… to May and June where we got used to the weirdness… that here’s what July and August will look like; very familiar, yet unfamiliar. It’s worth noting that this has all been (and continues to be) the strangest of times, and that applies to us all equally…. like, my life has been derailed in ways that make it completely unrelatable to what I was used to. You can say the same thing; everyone can. But what used to be normal for you was never normal for me to begin with. You’’ve been dealing with your own issues, as have I.

Forget the pandemic for a moment… even without it, we’ve all been absorbed in our little worlds from the day we were born. We’ve all had unique experiences. But suddenly, we’re all in the same boat, and it’s curious to think that the present derailed versions of what we’re all going through have a lot more in common with each other than ever… 6 months ago, we were all so different. Now we’re all derailed… and much more similar. Recall that word Sonder… the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own… isn’t it ironic (don’t you think) that it took a global pandemic to “normalize” life to this extent? A huge earthquake, a meteor strike or a nice, huge unexpected nearby volcanic blast would all achieve the same thing (and let’s hope we don’t find out anytime soon… but 2020 is only halfway done…), but when you think about it, we all have a lot more in common than we used to. We don’t need to fake it in conversations; we know exactly what someone is talking about when they talk about something that until recently, would’ve been completely unfamiliar to all of us.

A bit of a silver lining on the huge cloud… and I’m looking forward to the day when talking about all of that commonality will be within conversations that begin with, “Remember when…”


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July 12, 2020

Yesterday’s piece led to a lot of reactions and comments, mostly from people who’ve observed the same things… and yet, there continue to be people stuck on the “it’s a hoax” or “it’s totally overblown” thing…

Two things that appeared elsewhere in the news yesterday… one guy’s Facebook postings, starting in April… a whole progression of Pro-Trump/anti-mask… it’s hype, it’s a hoax, it’s all BS, I have some symptoms, I’m getting tested, I have it COVID, I feel awful, this sucks, etc. Poor guy died two days after testing positive.

The other one was the person who died after going to a COVID party… his last words, to his nurse, were… “ I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not”. Yup… well, at least he immortalized his last words… though probably not the ones he’d have wanted to go out on… and correct on both counts. He made a mistake, and it’s not a hoax.

There is a big difference between ignorance and stupidity, but self-imposed brainwashed ignorance falls into stupidity. Especially when otherwise intelligent people are drinking this Kool-Aid and falling for this nonsense.

I had thought we were done with exponential curves. The ones you see below have all flattened out… but that’s because I’m not charting things like Florida. They are setting records every day, and not the sort one would be proud of it. I think it’s beyond stupid, to be honest. So easily preventable if one just takes a step back and looks at the big picture. Agh. Frustrating.

On the flip-side, that’s just my opinion and I know not everyone agrees with it. In fact, here’s a word… with a bit of a long-winded definition:

Occhiolism (noun): the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room.

There’s an expression I really dislike, but it seems to be accurate for so much these days… and it’s not an excuse, just an explanation… and not a very good one: It is what it is.


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By |2020-10-08T01:21:24-07:00July 12th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Politics, Interesting Words|Tags: , , , , |11 Comments

July 10, 2020

We’re heading up to Whistler today, so this space may be emptier than usual for the next little while…and I’ll update the charts and graphs to the proper size eventually…

In the meantime, a couple of somewhat-related words that come to mind as I watch the world, and its contents, spinning around me…

Sonder (noun) The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Onism (noun) The frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time.

It’s kind of mind-bending when you try to step outside your “existence” – in other words, to truly try to visualize things from any other point of view, other than your own. I don’t just mean trying to understand someone else’s opinion; I mean literally, through their eyes. Stop and consider that every single experience and memory you have is from your own, unique point of view. But it’s more than that; all of reality is only what you’ve experienced. There is literally nothing of existence outside of your experiencing it. If you’ve never seen it or heard of it, until you do, it doesn’t actually exist.

Elon Musk thinks we’re all living in a simulation, and the longer it all goes on (life, in general), the more I get the idea that it’s true. The complexity and vastness of the universe, in both directions… infinitely big or small, feels a lot like the way these vast worlds of online games work… there’s a big map (like our universe), but until you actually need to go somewhere, it doesn’t exist… the game just creates that place when it needs to. It would take way too much memory and disk space for it all to be there. What’s the point of generating all of that for some distant galaxy we can barely see? We’ll create it when we get there… which we never will.

Closer to home, as per the words above… this vivid version of reality you hold in your mind; 7.8 billion other people have their own, unique version of it. It’s mind-blowing to think about, and it’s cool that there are words for it. I have this sonder every time I feel onism.

And if this is a simulation, I get the impression someone found some cheat codes and is trying them out on us. Threat of nuclear war? Killer hornets? Pandemic? Massive political upheaval with the world’s biggest superpower? Something new pretty-much every day. Today it’s a new virus in Kazakhstan, potentially worse than COVID-19. Gee, I wonder what this sequence of buttons does…

This unfortunately has the feel of when someone gets bored with a game. You spent some time building villages or planting crops or whatever… you’ve been doing it for a while, but the game has gotten stagnant or boring… so you throw the crazy at it. Storm the villages, burn the crops. Let’s hope that’s not what we’re dealing with… let’s at least hope that if whoever is running the show got bored, there’s that guy behind him watching… and now, saying, “Wait.. wait… seriously, wait… I got this… here, give me control.” Let’s hope… because then we should be good for another 65 million years… before that guy gets bored and sends a big meteor. Or whatever he needs to deal with his own onism at the sonder he sees on earth.


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July 7, 2020

Word of the day:

Monachopsis: (noun) The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

There’s one we can certainly all relate to sometimes; nice to find a single word to describe the feeling.

An interesting aspect of the Spanish language is the two versions of “to be”. One of them is a temporary state of being, like “Yo estoy feliz”… “I am happy”, as in, at this moment, I am happy. But “Yo soy feliz” would imply that I am always happy, as in a happy person.

Indeed, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense to be able to have that distinction. “You estoy frio” vs. “Yo soy frio”… I am cold at the moment, versus I am a cold person. “I am cold” could mean either.

I think that word is one of those that probably would always be used in the temporary… it’s not like we always feel out of place. Except, I suspect, if I lived in the U.S. at the moment… I am certain I’d be feeling out of place, and I’m pretty sure it’d be a persistent feeling… especially given how the more polarized things get, the more obvious it becomes that things will never get better. There will be no giant moment of national enlightenment… just people sticking their heads in the sand deeper and deeper.

That’s what I find myself thinking when I read the news… some of what people believe – or want to believe – or want others to believe… it’s unbelievable.

One would think this book that’ll be out soon – the one written by Trump’s niece – might serve to start some change. It won’t; it’ll just polarize things more.

Not like I have any solutions… not like there are any. This whole experience is like one of those mathematical models that you can define, but not solve. You have to actually model it… start things off with initial conditions, and let the complicated algorithm works its way through it. And one day, maybe, you have some understanding. We’re all in the midst of that experiment… and it’s certainly filling me with monachopsis. Yo estoy monachopsis.


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By |2020-10-08T01:21:26-07:00July 7th, 2020|Categories: COVID-19 Daily Report, Interesting Words|Tags: , |4 Comments
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