December 23, 2021

There are some words you never hear. We’re all familiar with “overwhelmed” and “underwhelmed”, but what about just whelmed? What does it even mean?

The words originate from the marine world and have been around for centuries, and these days, whelmed means where the water is coming right up to the sides of the boat, and some of it is splashing onto the deck… but it’s no big deal. Overwhelmed is where the water is pouring in from all sides, and things are heading in a catastrophic direction, ie. sinking or capsizing. And underwhelmed, of course, means nothing too exciting is going on.

We hear a lot about our medical system being at risk of being overwhelmed, but it’s not just hospital beds at risk. Long before a Covid case gets to hospital, there’s a lot that needs to happen… and every step of the way is potentially at risk of becoming a choke point. And once you have a choke point, the effects spill over to other areas.

What happens when the choke point is right at the beginning of the sequence? What if the boat is overwhelmed before it even leaves the harbour?

Two weeks ago, I drove by the Covid testing centre that’s been set up in the parking lot of St. Vincent’s Hospital. You head down 33rd, westbound, and turn right, into the lot. There were three cars waiting in line… probably a 5-minute wait. When I went to get my test a week ago, the lineup went all the way up to Cambie and then occupied the right-most southbound lane for about a block-and-a-half down. I joined the line at around Cambie and 31st, and from there it took close to 90 minutes to get tested.

I happened to drive by there today, and the lineup not only spilled onto Cambie; it now took up the two right lanes. And it went all the way down, past 26th Ave, almost to the intersection of King Ed. Two solid lanes for eight blocks, and that’s before the right turn onto 33rd for the final little bit.

My understanding is that people were being told it’s a close-to 6 hour wait.

So, here is exhibit A of an overwhelmed system. Funny how, two weeks ago, driving by there, I thought… huh, so much infrastructure for so little. A couple of piddly little cars waiting…and, for that… all these cops and nurses and tents and generators and infrastructure. It’s way too much. Ha Ha. And now, there’s only one word that applies. Overwhelmed. And here’s a spillover effect that has nothing to do with Covid: Cambie street is a designated emergency corridor. Indeed, if you’re downtown and need to get to… City Hall? VGH? The airport? It’s that straight line which, ostensibly, always has an open lane… just in case. But not today; two-thirds of the southbound lanes are a 6-hour line-up, and the other single lane is occupied by traffic which, of course, needing 300% of the allocated space, was backed up all the way to the Cambie Bridge. This would be a really bad time for an earthquake.

So… all these people being tested. Let’s start by being very clear that the startling increase in cases in no way reflects the actual reality. There are far, far more new cases today than the already eyebrow-raising 2,000+ would imply. How many people got to the line-up and said to hell with it? And at how many different testing sites? More than stuck around would be my guess. Their thinking makes some sense. Why wait it out? Go home, isolate, etc… we all know what we’re supposed to do. If it gets serious (and, overwhelmingly, if you’re double-vaxxed, it won’t), just go home and ride it out like any illness you’ve ever had. Why stress the overwhelmed infrastructure – and yes, that’s exactly what it is. A six-hour wait to get tested is nobody’s idea of whelmed.

And all of that leads into the topic-du-jour, which is an awful lot of pissed-off people. We heard a lot of “Hopefully by Christmas” ideas until recently. Until it all went to hell. The new restrictions have just added to the confusion and the anger. People have had enough, and it’s psychologically very difficult to keep adjusting to goalposts which seem to move haphazardly, and have been doing so for two years. Gyms are ok, gyms are not ok, family gatherings are not ok, restaurants yes, sort of…, clubs no, etc etc. Who makes these rules? Why are they messing with us?

The science behind these restrictions, as random as it might seem, is entirely based on likelihood of transmission. Closed indoor spaces with bad ventilation, ie gyms, are, with a bug as contagious as Omicron, a bad place to be. Big parties in enclosed restaurant party rooms? If there is one person in that room who has Omicron, after 3 hours of jovial partying, everyone will have come into contact with it. And this time, vaxxed or not, you’re at a much higher risk.

The number of people saying “So what. Enough. Who cares.” is higher than it’s ever been, and why wouldn’t it be. People who’ve been planning for months (if not years). People who’ve heard this version isn’t so serious. People whose airline tickets and hotels have crossed beyond the refundable window, and their measurement of risk/reward makes sense to them.

There are no simple answers. Indeed, there are many scenarios imaginable that technically violate the orders… yet people are comfortably wrapping their heads around ways to justify their decisions.

There are still too many variables to figure out what’s ok and what isn’t. It’ll all shake out in hindsight, but for now, everything in place is there to prevent one thing: overwhelming the medical system. But hey, guess what… the overwhelming is already happening.

The question to which we’d all love an answer is just how, where and what is being overwhelmed. What’s the effect of a virus that’s not as serious but a lot easier to catch? The math of “A third as serious but 10x easier to catch” nets out to more hospitalizations. Enough to break the system?

Around here – in fact, in all of Canada, the staggering growth in cases in not translating to hospitalizations except in Quebec, where they’re seeing a bit of a spike… but still, not even close to proportional to their new cases.

There’s no good summary to any of this; this variant hit at the worst possible time. Here’s another word where perhaps it’s fair to use the less-common form. Whereas in the past, everything we experienced was unprecedented, this is all feeling somewhat precedented at the moment. Hopefully not for long. I’d like to feel gruntled again.

In the meantime… for those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas… and may this be the last of the “memorable” ones, at least in this context.

October 13, 2021

The Great Divide; it keeps getting wider… and every day is happy to provide examples to suit whatever argument you wish to agree with. If we were ever all together in the same boat, drifting in the same direction… well, that’s over. The river forked, and some went this way and others went that way. Depends who you ask. And yes, geologists, sit down… I know, rivers don’t do that… but you know what I’m trying to say… just trying to symbolize the ever-increasing gap in people’s opinions.

Like… It’s almost over! The U.S. border will be open soon! The Canucks are playing their first regular season game in over 18 months in front of a sell-out crowd!

Or… todays Covid deaths… 38 in Alberta and 11 in Saskatchewan… are more than we’ve seen since January. There are so many critically-ill patients in Saskatchewan that they’ll be sending them to Ontario hospitals. Yeah, here we go again.

OK, so what’s the deal? Where the hell exactly are we? Is it heading towards being over? Is it heading for a fifth wave? Will it ever end? We had such High Hopes.

Pink Floyd has a song called High Hopes… from their 1994 album “The Division Bell.”
The song contains lyrics like “The grass was greener” and “The light was brighter” and “The taste was sweeter”. How things were. And where we hope we’re once again headed… soon.

An interesting thing about that song… the eponymous (“relating to the person or thing for which something is named”) Division Bell itself plays a prominent role. You can hear it on every 4th beat of most of the song. One-two-three-DING one-two-three-DING… and I don’t mean some little “next, please” chime or a little sleigh bell… I mean an actual gigantic bell, the sort you see in a belltower of a mediaeval church. The song starts with lots of bells, but then just settles on this one… keeping that 4th beat. Then comes the wall of sound… the drums, the bass, the guitars, the keyboards, David Gilmour’s voice… but, by the end of the song, all of that has faded away and we’re left with nothing but… yes, you guessed it. When I purchased tickets for that concert, I was hoping they’d have an actual bell on stage.

Sidenote… I stood in line all night for tickets to that concert… and bought the maximum 6 tickets when it was finally my turn. I think 4 of the 5 friends who came to that show with me back in 1994 might be reading this.

Anyway, I was not disappointed. Prominently occupying the back of center-stage was a gigantic bell, and it well-served its purpose for the final song of the night; there was a solitary percussionist whose only job was to hammer it every 4 beats.

The persistence of it… they symbolism isn’t difficult to grasp. It’s not subtle… it hits you like… well, like being clanged by a bell-hammer every four beats: It doesn’t matter what’s happening now; it’s temporary. It’ll fade. But what came before and what’ll come again; that’s permanence. You can almost hear the bell ringing from a thousand years ago and ringing a thousand years into the future. But here we are for the moment and, as per above, where are we?

Before we answer that, it’s worth answering “Where should we be?” All things being equal, this pandemic should be over.

Let’s remind ourselves about R-naught (“Rø”)… a number which, at the start of this pandemic meant everything. Rø measures the “spreadability” of a disease by calculating how many people, on average, an infected person is themselves infecting. An Rø of less than one means the disease is on its way out. An Rø of greater than one means it’ll continue spreading.

The original C19 had an Rø of between 1.4 and 3.9. The Alpha variant doubled that. And then the Delta variant came along and doubled it again, to somewhere between 5 and 9. For comparison, a seasonal flu has an Rø of 0.9 to 2.1. Measles has an Rø of 12 to 18. We are closer to measles territory than a conventional flu.

If we had vaccines and treatments and no variants, this might all be over. There is a direct correlation with respect to herd immunity and Rø… and it’s exactly what you’d expect; the more infectious the disease, the more people need to be immune to it to prevent it from spreading. The originally-thought herd immunity level for beating this thing was around 70%, and with an Rø of 3, that’s about right. But now, unfortunately, it’s far from being the case. With the Delta variant, we need to be approaching 90%.

Originally, good hand washing and masks and social distancing and restrictions were thought to be the key… and they were. Without vaccines, all of those things help tremendously in stopping the spread, effectively bashing down the Rø because they prevent the virus from spreading unchecked. The world provided some examples as to what happens when you let that native Rø run its course, and it wasn’t pretty.

So… instead of a quick end, what we got is a far more contagious variant… and far more vaccine hesitancy/denial/insanity than anyone could’ve predicted. Those two things very-effectively have served to extend this… and, in essence, convert it from a pandemic to what’ll ultimately be an endemic disease that’ll be with us forever.

OR…

Well, here’s a funny thing. Much like a broken clock is right twice a day, when the fanatical anti-vaxxers scream that the scientists don’t understand this thing at all, there’s one particular aspect where they’re right… and it has to do with the mysterious 2-month cycle of Covid-19. One example of nailing the broken clock is this:

It seems, with some regularity, that when there’s a surge in cases, they seem to plateau after about two months and then drop off. Indeed, look at the numbers and pretty pictures and they all tell the same story. There’s a definite plateau off of the two-month surge, and in the U.S., who started down the path before us, a notable decline in new cases… 35% since September 1st. Indeed, worldwide, cases have dropped 30% since late August and when cases drop, so do hospitalizations and ICU admissions and deaths. The surge in ICU cases and deaths in Alberta and Saskatchewan today are due to the new case surges of two weeks (and longer) ago… but today’s new-case numbers are all, at worst flat, and, at best, a lot lower (more than 50%) from the recent past. Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: in a month, things in those two provinces (and Canada in general) will be looking a lot better.

Why is this happening? Nobody is too sure, because all of the variables have been written out of the equation. It’s warm, it’s cold, masks on, masks off, social distancing, easing of restrictions, vaccines. Whereas all of those things are treated very differently around the world, there’s a very evident pattern: Generally speaking, cases rose from February to late April, fell until late June, rose to highs in late August and have been falling ever since. In Canada, we were a little late to the party, so add a month to all of that. But the pattern is there. And so, Canada numbers will continue to go down, the border will open and Canucks fans will flood to Seattle for games and we will all be back to normal.

No, not quite… but given vaccinations and the pattern above, there’s reason to be optimistic. Those two things imply that the worst is over. And yes, it could change again. Pick an as-of-yet unused Greek letter, attach “variant” to it, and a frightening Rø, and you can throw the optimism out the window. There’s the other broken clock. We simply don’t know what we don’t know… and that’s why the bell keeps ringing, and will do so till the end of time.

Like the song ends, and like we might all be feeling, drifting with the current, destination time and place unknown…

With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
Forever and ever

Ding… ding… ding…

October 13, 2021

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
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