A Chernobyl moment

Mrs S and I went out to get a small treat today from a Tim Hortons drive through. Also to have a general chin wag and to set the world to rights as we often do. Something she said touched off a memory flashback which took me all the way to a rainy UK midlands industrial estate in 1986.

That day I was outside, bareheaded in the rain with water trickling past the collar of my sodden heavy wool coat, doing the job the new foreman had sent me out to do. This new foreman hated my guts for some reason. No idea why, some people are naturally ill disposed to others and there seemed no obvious rhyme or reason to it. My previous boss had been booted upstairs for being too efficient and we were stuck with a new ignoramus who did all the petty things low level managers are not supposed to do, like play favourites and take out his frustrations on his most junior subordinates. Of whom I was one. We got all the shit jobs. Me because I was (and remain) reasonably well spoken and modestly educated, traits which will always get you into trouble with a certain sort. This particular task was something he’d given me because my face offended, so outside I was sent. I think I was checking serial numbers or something, sorting out gear in the yard for bringing inside the workshop later. It’s not important now.

I heard that specific foreman died of a heart attack in the early 90’s. Don’t ask me to be sorry about that because I’m not. He was a very unpleasant man.

On that afternoon the air tasted of something like burning tin, but I thought nothing of it at first since there was a flame cutting shop over the way and we used cutting discs and plasma cutters a lot, so I was used to that kind of smell. But you get to know the taste in your mouth when hot metal is being cut. After a while you can tell which material is being cut and what it’s being cut with, be it copper, steel, or aluminium by flame / laser or plasma cutter. They’re like power chords in a heavy metal number, brash but distinctive. Once you know what they are, some of that gets hard coded into your senses and it never leaves you.

This was different. It was akin to the harsh stink of galvanised steel being cut with a flame cutter, but not quite. I remember sniffing and glancing curiously at the workshop over the road where the guys were busy setting up a jig for a new contract. Their cutting gear was cold so it couldn’t be them. So I sniffed again, then licked rain off my top lip and spat it out. The smell was in the downpour.

I remember looking up at leaden clouds, which seemed to have an odd yellowish tinge to them. The sun, where its shape shone through, was a parody of a badly poached egg. The rain felt heavy, the kind of steady, solid English downpour that soaks you to the skin no matter what you wear. At the time I couldn’t get any more miserable than I was and I’d catch hell if I didn’t complete the task, regardless of the weather. And it wasn’t until watching the news at ten that evening that I realised what I’d seen that afternoon was probably the radioactive fallout cloud from Chernobyl passing overhead.

Just over seven years later I was under the knife, having a growth in a lung removed. Took me six months to recover. I used to wonder if that was because I’d breathed in something nasty on that afternoon in 1986.

Doesn’t matter. Shit happens and we have to adapt.

What really struck me this afternoon, and it’s been going around in my head ever since, is this one thought;

This is Communist China’s Chernobyl moment.

Never mind anything Trump or Johnson are doing in response to this event, that’s irrelevant. A chain has been set in motion and the world is changing before our very eyes. This is fall of empires stuff where not quite all the major players die at the end. Governments will fall. Two empires will collapse. I’d tell you whose heads I expect to tumble, but that would spoil the surprise. Although I’m sure my one remaining reader can hazard some reasonable guesses.

I believe the regional economic fallout will last as long as the ban on Welsh and Cumbrian Lamb after Chernobyl. Perhaps much, much longer.

Now that’s a very sobering thought and I now need a very large whiskey to counter it.

To mask or not to mask

That is the question. Do surgical masks do any good? Or as many ‘authorities’ like Canada’s Federal chief medical honcho keep telling us, masks are baaad and raaacist and your legs will drop off if wear one.

Well, I look at the public health ‘advice’ out there and I’m having a bad case of “WTF?” Finding advice given over the mass media often contradictory and downright bad. Especially if you want to avoid spreading or contracting any form of lurgi.

Declaration of interest here. I’ve done basic operating theatre training and a six weeks placement assisting with a number of operations from tonsilectomies to hip replacements. So I’m not entirely ignorant. Okay, much of my experience is dated, but the basics are pretty simple and haven’t changed that much.

Ask yourself this;

Q: Why do operating theatre staff wear disposable paper deflector masks rather than filter masks?
A: To prevent them breathing germs over open wounds.

You see, I was taught that the purpose of a surgical mask is to slow and direct breathed (and infected) air away from the area being operated upon. This is why the one time I picked up a filter mask because we were running low on the soft surgical variety, the Senior Sister on duty tore me off a serious strip and sent me back to the scrub area to get a proper surgical mask and wash up again. That woman had a tongue that could scour rust. Hey, but she was old school and her lessons stuck.

Her lesson was that filter masks are not that useful in containing viruses, especially when containing coughs and sneezes, because a little expressed airflow still escapes over the area you want to keep clear of infection and viruses can pass through even an N95. With a soft surgical mask the ever present germs from your breath tend to be directed behind the mask and not over someone else whilst still allowing you to breathe freely. That is why they work.

Which if containing diseases is the effect you are looking for, surgical masks are quite the thing. You can even make your own if the stores are out, which at the moment is probable. Pattern here if you’re handy with a sewing machine. Or watch the video below (Sorry about the accent, she’s American, poor lamb). A normal Kleenex will do for a disposable insert. Make a few and give them to your friends. Sell them to your enemies. At top dollar.

This isn’t an April fools by the way.

To reiterate; in terms of restricting infection spread a soft surgical style mask does not have to be tight fitting and fulfills it’s function pretty well even if worn over a beard. A scarf over the face works too. Anything that slows droplets expressed during a cough or sneeze (Or even excited talking) will do at a pinch. A scarf or large bandanna tied over the face while you’re out and about mitigates the worst of the spread simply because it reduces the radius of potential infection to centimetres rather than two metres. Cotton or viscose will do. Don’t forget to wash after each use. Cover your mouth with paper tissues or even an old fashioned handkerchief if you have nothing else. Japanese and Koreans wear masks a lot, and their infection stats are much lower than those in the Anglophone west. We should profit from their example.

Conclusion; masks aren’t bad. They’re quite good, no matter what the PTB say. To say otherwise is monumentally bad advice, especially when it comes to preventing the spread of a nasty disease like SARS-CoVD 19. Add a mask to decent hygiene and cheap non-latex gloves you will maximise your chances of coming through this pandemic relatively unscathed when out and about, going to work or the stores.

So long as Security think you’re not trying to rob the place and call the cops on you, you’ll be fine.

This has been a public information post. Stay safe.

On isolation

Given the nature of our job(s) Mrs S and I naturally tend to self-isolate. We have ‘top-up’ shopping trips once a week for milk etc, and once every two weeks to keep the freezer topped up. Bulk perishables (Flour, Oats) are bought once a month on, and non-perishables bought in bulk for three or six months. Our larder / supply cupboard is kept stocked on that basis. It’s how we manage our budget. Going to the shops every other day seems such a waste of time and effort when we could be doing other things.

This makes us less vulnerable to outside influences like well intentioned people with clipboards, or walking around with tablet computers asking questions. Note; if you see one, cross the street, speak gibberish if they approach and never, ever open the door to one. Shoot on sight if you have to, but avoid them at all costs. They’re nothing but trouble. I don’t care how ‘socially useful’ the government or NGO (They all seem to be NGO’s nowadays masquerading as ‘charities’) thinks they are. They’re not. The only thing these people and their managers are good at is creating shortages. At that they excel.

These clipboard wielders, whether they know it or not, are monsters of the worst sort, leaching off the life force of other creatures and turning it to dust. Especially Charity Muggers, or ‘Chuggers’. Yes, behind the well formed features and pleasant voices, they are like the Angler fishes bait. Beware.

Despite looking like one of my jobs is going to disappear in July, I’m still ahead of the curve regarding home working. For the last few years I’ve video conferenced, shifted data and money around the globe, invested in various markets, planned and booked entire trans-continental and even Australian road trips. All without leaving my desk. The logistics look complicated but aren’t that hard. Once you get a handle on all the online resources, it’s relatively straightforward. Therefore the number of people I physically come into contact (or even within two metres of) on a day to day basis is one. We chafe occasionally, but we’re in the third week of our self-imposed isolation and doing okay. Hang on a minute Bill three weeks? Yes, three, bordering on four. We reduced our contact from 3rd March and shut the door completely to visitors March 10th and have only made five forays since.

Let me explain. We’ve been self isolating since Covid-19 first poked it’s ugly head outside of China. In the first instance this was to protect Elderly Friend and latterly to protect ourselves. Apart from Mrs S, the only close contact (Within a metre) I’ve had in all that time was at arms length at the checkouts, with a sanitary masked driver signing for a delivery on our doorstep and handing over a coupon at a gas station to a guy wearing a sanitary mask and gloves. So we’ve had a bit more practice than most. We also go shopping with disposable gloves on. I would mask up, but I don’t want to get shot by the local cops who might mistake me for a potential robber.

Being a massive introvert, which is something that may surprise anyone who has actually met me, I’m quite at home, if you’ll pardon the pun, with self isolation. The hardest thing for me is to fake being social. Okay, I can fake the hail-fellow-well-met thing for an hour or two, but then I have to go indoors and shut the door on the world. Some people can’t do this, without the constant push-pull of human interaction they wither. Me, I like my own space and get annoyed when people butt in without invitation. Especially if I’m busy having an enjoyable conversation with dining / boon companions.

Financially things are getting better. The pound has regained the losses it sustained in the last two weeks, the markets are back on the upswing. Give it another week and then perhaps some of the harsher restrictions can be lifted. In rural areas there need be very few. Only cities currently need a solid quarantine. Then again, in their ignorance the powers that be are managing to screw up by being far too draconian. Like with Police stopping cars to fine drivers for making ‘unnecessary journeys’ or harassing widely spaced dog walkers in public parks with or without drones. Seriously? How is that ‘promoting social distancing’? Can a person in a car spread the disease? The simple act of an officer stopping a car may lead to interactions where the disease is transmitted for heavens sake! What idiot thought that up? Then there’s restricting the number of buses and trains, then expecting people to have room to breathe. The People who make these decisions show themselves incapable of running a bath, let alone having any public responsibility. Khan, Trudeau, we’re talking about you. Go to the top of the class and then jump off.

Like I said before; when someone says “I don’t know what all that fuss was about.” then you’ll know the worst is over. Like with the much vaunted ‘Earth hour’ I missed that nonsense yet again, simply because I was just too damn busy getting on with my life.

Again on the upside, a cheap combination Hydroxychloroquine / Zinc treatment for Covid-19 is showing great promise, so our self imposed isolation may be coming to an end in the very near future. All right, such a treatment won’t stop anyone catching the virus, but it may well save the lives of those who do.

Hey ho, the Daffodils are out. My Tulips are getting ready to flower and I can see the Fuchsia is budding. Spring is coming, and with it better times.

Containment

I’ve been hearing rumours that the Covid-19 figures from China are not kosher. There are clues, nothing conclusive, but enough to raise a sceptical eyebrow at the ‘no new cases’ claim coming from the PRC. Maybe even that the death count from Wuhan and other cities is being under reported by at least a factor of three. I mentioned this to Mrs S this morning, and she said she had seen similar stories from outlets with differing agendas, so, okay, not clear evidence but definitely something that makes my bullshit detectors twitch.
What can I say? Doctor, Doctor, I’m suffering from a nasty suspicious mind?
Doctor; Sorry Bill, there’s no cure for that.

Then the ugly fact pops up that this is the fourth(!) and most major pandemic / global virus to come out of that region in the last fifteen years. I checked the WHO’s historical stats available here. First there was SARS, then H1N1 (Swine flu), H7N9 (A form of Bird flu), now there is Covid-19. That is a lot of infections from one region in such a relatively short time frame. One might even be forgiven for thinking there’s something deliberate going on. Either that or they have some serious public hygiene / health issues.

Africa for example has issues with diseases we in the modern west left behind in the 1950’s and latterly the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses. Cholera, Polio and various other diseases etc are endemic but nothing like the disease output of China. There’s also the point that all the four Chinese originating viruses are zoonotics, as are Ebola and Marburg (originating from wild animals). There was also talk of Covid-19 looking like it was born in a lab and let out into the wild by poor containment protocols.

Which begs the thought, why did we in the west outsource so many manufacturing jobs to the PRC? We may get cheaper consumer goods in return, but the downside of this globalist approach is the rapid spread of virulent and fatal diseases with their associated problems. As we are seeing.

The answer of course is lower manufacturing costs and cheap labour. Apple for example wouldn’t be able to make such vast profits otherwise. Nor would other large multinationals.

As an investor I am less than comfortable using Chinese equipment simply because of the well known issue of state slavery in China. Specifically political prisoners used to produce consumer goods. Other countries in the region; Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, have less of an issue and can and do take up the slack when multinationals switch their production. These alternatives do have their public health issues but are are not such sinks of widespread infection. Despite my brokers urging, I have to date refused point blank to put my money into companies who use the PRC as their primary manufacturing and distribution hubs, like Apple for example.

Okay, you might say, some of this is all conjecture on my part, but I say given the actual evidence perhaps it is time to rethink this relationship? Trump, the globalists bête noire and villain in chief (I wonder why?), has set great store in repatriating manufacturing jobs to the USA. Maybe now is the time for other western nations to increase their efforts in this direction? Before the next Chinese-born pandemic rolls around.

As for Gordon Brown, the UK’s biggest failure as Prime Minister, he can fuck right back off to a well deserved obscurity and take his ‘one world government response’ with him. This pandemic is mostly the globalists fault anyway.

The red spot

Dragged untimely from my pit by an early morning phone call from Elderly Friend who has one thing not to fret about. And what is she doing? Fretting about minutiae. Then forgetting she’s called us and calling again half an hour later with breaks for lunch and supper. Doesn’t matter how much we explain or try to reassure, the dementia and memory loss are accelerating and all we can do is play along.

Thus in my semi somnolent state I stumbled into the kitchen, sneezed and coughed a little to clear the tubes as usual, emptied the dishwasher and made the tea. Hello, what’s that on the floor in front of the sink? A carmine red oval about the size of a small fingernail. Bloody hell! Is that blood?

To my sleep fogged brain it looked very similar to a single ten millimetre long blob of semi-congealed blood. Which woke me up rather more sharply than I like. Cautiously I picked up a paper towel and wiped it up. Jesus H Christ on a bike! It looks like blood? Am I coughing up blood? The terrified little thought starts to swirl around my head. Coughing up blood is very bad. Especially a blob like that.

I cough again, blow my nose into a tissue. That’s funny. Tissue shows not the faintest spot of red. Check the bit of paper towel I used to wipe up the spot and have a sniff. Sniff again. Hmm. That’s familiar. Doesn’t smell like blood. Smells sweet….. like Raspberry jam. Well thank the Lord for that. It’s raspberry bloody jam! Be still my beating heart. I tell Mrs S who roars with laughter, as do I.

Raspberry jam. Memory floods back from a raspberry jam on toast snack early yesterday evening. I don’t remember dropping any on the kitchen floor, but I don’t bother with lights when I close the kitchen down just after seven and setting the dishwasher going so I must have missed it.

Well that’s a relief.

I’ll be glad when the next week of lockdown is over and April arrives. I must be going a bit stir crazy.

Locked down

Aside from up to eight calls a day from Elderly Friend as she struggles with her increasingly failing memory, life carries on pretty much as normal for online workers such as Mrs S and I. The current lockdown puts a curb on our daily activities outside the house but otherwise only affects the suppliers we deal with and the flow of raw data. So while all about us have been losing theirs we have been attempting to keep our heads and are doing our best to support other members of our little clan who are less fortunate. So far so good. So long as the clunking fist of big government doesn’t get in the way and screw everything up with it’s characteristic one size fits all thinking. Which is what really wakes me up in a cold sweat.

Okay, it’s a pandemic. A nasty bug. For most a bit of a discumbuggerance, for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions like Bronchitis, Diabetes etc, too often fatal.

This leads me to think that perhaps we’re doing this quarantine thing all wrong. Part of the population needs to be isolated for their own protection, this much is true. But not all of it. Care homes and hospitals need to be isolated because they’re full of the infirm and vulnerable, so visitors and staff to those facilities should be heavily restricted and strictly follow the protocols of barrier nursing. Disposable caps, facemasks, scrubs and foot coverings for all staff, not just the nurses and doctors. Just like in operating theatre. Aseptic techninque will need to be rigidly adhered to. I know from long experience that hospitals are great places to contract an illness, this phenomena even has a name; nosocomical (Hospital acquired) infection.

Personal anecdote; I remember a staff nurse shaking her head at me when I made a comment to a consultant physician that this was so. She had forgotten her training. I hadn’t. Hospitals are full of sick people, so it makes perfect sense to stay away from them and Doctors waiting rooms unless absolutely necessary.

So, what to do with all this enforced idleness for the rest of you? Well, there’s lots to learn online for free. There are formal courses like on Coursera and other platforms, many of them free. There’s EDX. Free courses with the Open University. Learn a skill. Or just something new. Learn how to fix your bathroom do up the kitchen, learn to cook your favourite comfort food, build a house, do complicated sums. There are loads of great ‘how to’ Youtube videos. Even free games. Write. Catch up on your reading. Sit in a window and read while you watch the world go by, such as it is. Stay off anti-social media.

Me, I have my day job, watch the markets, write, do courses, do some weights, wander into the kitchen to watch the ships over a cup of tea and see if my little jungle needs anything, watch lectures and try to improve myself. Mrs S often comes into my office around eight or nine in the evening to ask “Anyone seen my husband?” So I log off my course material, shut down my accounts, put down my book or go to keep her company in the front room. Wake up at seven and do it all again.

Being locked down isn’t so bad. There sometimes aren’t enough hours in the day.

Happier news

On the line with elder sibling in the UK the other day. We were both having a bitch about this quarantine business and how it has impacted us personally. Our respective pension funds have taken a serious hit, but the markets will bounce back so we’re not panicking. Yet. The travel restrictions are a pain, but fortunately not a game changer for us at present. He reports that there are fewer episodes of the dreadful long running soap operas Eastenders and Coronation Street, also the musical abortion called the Eurovision song contest has been cancelled. Which can only be a good thing for the mental health of all UK residents.

‘South’ a.k.a Eldest and I did some over the phone bonding in one of the longest talks we’ve ever had on Monday. Her Australian permanent residency does not give her access to social funds if she’s laid off, so I offered her a sum of money to tide her over, but bless her cotton socks she demurred. She told me she has saved some money of her own and already has a plan to make a few pennies on the side. She’s hunkering down and has a bolt hole with Brother and sister in law up in Cairns if everything goes further south than at present. So thanks Boss, she reported, but she’s all good.

‘North’ a.k.a. ‘Youngest’ is in a high transmissibility situation down in the Smoke, but she and her flatmates are hunkered down, and she has a solid contract, so her money stream has not been cut off. She’ll be fine. Smart kids. We keep in touch and let them know we will help out if called upon. Even though we’re all thousands of miles apart Mrs S and I can get financial help to them inside twenty four hours. If nothing else, knowing family has your back no matter what gives confidence, which is often of far more use than just money.

Mrs S and I have rebuilt our slightly scorched personal bridges through careful discussion this morning. We’re all good again, Kind of. I acknowledged that she’s not been sleeping as well as necessary and that her job and the Covid-19 lockdown had stressed her out. But I said that I forgave her emotional blowout and hoped that she would forgive my undiscussed investment actions. After I had time to explain why I needed to move as fast as I had, and that maybe she had her head filled with all the issues of her day job too much to appreciate what I thought I’d previously told her, and how my investment would benefit us both, she saw the sense of it. But in the heat of the moment she’d lost track of where she was, and in that lost moment, lashed out at me.

Apologies and explanations have been accepted, hugs have been exchanged and now we’re able to talk reasonably again, sharing affection and having those long rambling philosophical conversations she says keep her alive. Bit touch and go for a moment there, but like I said, we’re all good again. I think. Of course I could have held on to my anger, but anger is destructive, it corrodes the spirit and weakens reason. Blind anger makes people irrational and erodes their decision making faculties. I choose not to be angry if I can possibly help it. Cool heads, I find, tend to prevail in troubled times.

Speaking of which, I was called a ‘raaacist‘ on a YouTube comment thread today, which is an accusation a number of my old workmates and friends would find highly amusing. I had posted a comment critical of Trudeau for trying to buy a seat on the UN Security Council with Canadian taxpayer dollar, which as a Canadian taxpayer (Regardless of my race, religion or social construct) I have severe reservations about. Said lefty nonsense merchant even accused me of having a poorly adjusted tin foil hat. To which I had to respond that he brought race into the argument and that my tin foil hat was perfectly well adjusted thank you, which seemed to anger my correspondent even more, who was too busy spitting venom and projecting his own inner frustrations onto me to notice that he (possibly, but how is one to know anyone’s gender online?) was having the urine royally extracted. People like that are almost too easy to mock. They get so riled up they don’t notice they’ve lost. I could almost hear his arteries hardening. I do so hope he doesn’t suffer from an aneurysm. Not.

Notwithstanding, the peace of our home has been restored, our Irish travel plans are still in place and anger has been banished to the black pit from whence it arose. My little Grapefruit plant is still blossoming and I can breathe again.

Next crisis please. We’re finished with this one.

Go figure…

Mrs S just blew up. A full on fit of anger. The full fireworks display. She literally shouted at me. I’m half way surprised she didn’t tell to pack my bags on the spot the way she behaved.

So what did I do? Had I been having sex outside of our marriage? Had I cheated on her? Messed with the kids or performed some other morally reprehensible act in public just to shame her? No. Spent all our hard earned retirement savings on some wild and highly risky speculation? Did I quit my job and demand that she paid all the bills or emptied our joint bank account? No. She’s worried about losing her job I know but she does want to quit because of all the touchy feely Left coast bullshit. So we’re getting out this year. At least that was the plan.

So what did I actually do? What occasioned the fire-tongued tirade she subjected me to?

What I did was pay a five figure sum from my personal cash reserve into our joint investment account. That’s right. I added to our joint holdings by buying some blue chip shares at close to the bottom of the market. An act that promises to more than double the money I put in within two months. An investment that will go some way to help recoup our recent losses in the short to medium term, and make us quite a handsome return over the next year. An act that will boost our joint, not my own, but our mutual retirement fund by nearly six figures if my highly conservative estimates are correct.

We’d briefly discussed the matter in December with our broker and I’d stated my intent to invest some of my personal cash reserve back then. It was mine and I still have twice as much again in reserve. The money is not lost. It’s invested in dividend paying stocks whilst the market is depressed.

All right, I didn’t ask her express permission, but I didn’t think I needed it. I thought it a measure that would benefit us both. A pleasant financial reassurance in this time of trouble.

We’re still well in funds. Down a fair bit, but nothing we won’t get back over the next year. No-one has died. The rent is paid and the larder full. As far as I know our booked flights to Ireland and accommodation haven’t been cancelled. So long as we don’t panic we’ll be diamond.

Yet I got yelled at. For doing what I said I’d do. So I objected. I said I’d made my intentions clear, but she said I hadn’t and added some hurtful accusations. Voices were raised. I walked away. Went and did some chores. Took the car out for half an hours drive to rant at the blankness of the steering wheel and try to find the right words to cool things down. Came back to a silent house to find she’d locked herself in the bedroom. So I’m leaving her to think about what she said while I wonder whether we’d be better off apart.

I feel like I just handed her a large bouquet of roses and she responded by raking the thorns across my face…

I know there’s a lot of fear out there but that was uncalled for. Part of me knows one of us needs to offer an olive branch, but given her current mood, I don’t know how.

Go figure.

This is a sample

Take a look outside. Go on. What do you see? Fewer vehicles than usual moving. Very few flights (Except for a chosen minority). People avoiding each other. Empty shelves in the supermarket. Hoarding. Restrictions on work and travel. People losing their jobs or being laid off because the companies they work for simply can’t afford to pay them.

And it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

This is just a small taste of what the ‘Green New Deal’ and similarly intentioned measures would look like if implemented. Those would make the current Covid-19 pandemic restrictions look positively benign.

In the meantime; wash your hands, keep your distance and we’ll (mostly) come out of this alive. The cultures that carry on as before will keep on suffering like right now.

As for these dumb SJW ‘Hug a Chinese’ campaigns and suchlike to combat a non-problem, there is only this to say; the people who throw the ‘racism’ accusation about can do as they will. I on the other hand, have no desire to end up on the ventilator next to them in some sequestered sports facility, wondering if it’s time for this small candle to go out. I am quite happy for them to take my place because I’d rather be thought a ‘racist’ than win a Darwin award.

Personally, I am altering my habits of greeting. Handshakes and hugs are being replaced with a louche kind of half wave, half salute, tip of the hat, a small bow or what I call a friendly nod. Any attempts at physical (Apart from Mrs S) contact are being met with an upraised palm, face outwards at arms length and a polite “There is a pandemic on don’t you know.”.

To any protests of “Well I’m not infected.”
I am responding with; “How do you know I’m not? Please keep your distance.”

Mrs S is chafing. She’s not a happy bunny at all what with the current job uncertainty and I’m having to bite my tongue a lot at present. However, I know from long experience that so long as I hold my nerve and speak softly, we’ll survive.

On a similar note, these sweeping powers that Western Governments are gleefully according themselves had better be bloody temporary or I’ll set the girls on them. They frighten the bejasus out of me, so God alone knows what they’ll do to any flunky who gets in the way.

We still have flights to Ireland booked for September and hopefully the worst of things will be over by then. If our once yearly trip get cancelled, the domestic consequences may be more than I can handle. Did I mention that my best girl has a firecracker temper? Does Amazon do body armour? I may need it.

On the plus side, my Grapefruit plant flower is looking good and I await developments with bated breath. Over here the sun is shining. As to the rest, my teeth are firmly gritted and that’s that. Onwards and bloody upwards.

Update: Just ran a few numbers, see below.

The first four columns are the actual numbers as reported at the Johns Hopkins dashboard. The fifth column is overall percentage of general population infected. The sixth is percentage deaths from whole population and the seventh is the scary number, which is the percentage of deaths from the total of reported infections. Which are mostly already sick people in the 70+ age range.

I’m optimistic. I think Trumps two week deadline to flatten the US curve looks quite achievable. Looks like the US markets agree.

Anti-Viral

Well that’s a piece of good news in amongst all the hand waving hysteria. I refer of course to the two Malarial anti-viral drugs mooted as part of the treatment for cases of Covid-19. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil, Quineprox), or Chloroquine (Aralen Phosphate, Aralen Hydrochloride). These two specific drugs are usually prescribed as part of both a preventative and treatment regime for Malaria. Mrs S and our girls are familiar with them, having been to the more malarial countries of Africa more than once. The US administration have authorised its use in large scale Covid-19 (a.k.a. the ‘Wu-Flu’) clinical trials, as they’re cheap, relatively easy to get hold of and the side effects and contra-indications are already well known.

Also showing promise is Remdesivir, developed to treat Ebola and Marburg, currently only available in Canada via a Special Access Program. I’ve heard tell that the WHO likes the look of it, but at the moment I think it’s still any port in a storm as far as stemming the Covid-19 pandemic is concerned. Fortunately I’m told these solutions can be rolled out rapidly, as soon as they clear the FDA’s accelerated program, maybe even as early as two or three weeks from now. Subject to favourable results Covid -19 will rapidly turn into a purely logistical, rather than an epidemiological issue.

There’s a lot of detailed professional scepticism which is quite hard to follow in this article and subsequent comment thread, but it’s good to see how a risky matter is being thoroughly addressed. It’s also very educational.

For example, I’d forgotten all about the difference between a nucleoside and nucleotide. Which, given my previous experience, I should know. But memory needs refreshing or it fades after a decade or three. The knowledge is still there in deep storage, but the links have switched. So it takes a while to get back up to speed again.

This does not mean that we should abandon extra attention to better personal hygiene and social distancing, but it will mean that quarantine is not going to be the only way we can beat this nasty bug. Covid-19 is out in the wild now, but at least there is the hope of effective treatment. Which will ultimately mean that people will be able to get back to work, no-one will starve, and we can all get back to fussing over whether someone has ‘mis-gendered’ somebody else, mis-pronounced their name, got their invented and highly personal pronoun wrong or even (Heaven forfend!) hurt their ickle feelings. Or some other ludicrousness construed as a ‘hate crime’.

Upon reflection, I think a societal paradigm shift is well overdue. There’s an episode from Douglas Adam’s radio series ‘the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’ which outlines a phenomena where society undergoes a complete cultural reversal. Where, and I’m paraphrasing heavily here; people who had once written books about the anguish of spending half an hour alone in their bathroom with a chipped fingernail were now writing books about how they had run marathons and climbed mountains with a perfectly healthy fingernail, but just about everything else broken or falling off.

This pandemic may just be such a moment, when someone who has agonised for months about how someone hurt their precious ickle fi-fi’s suddenly grows up and turns to a more robust lifestyle perhaps even losing a finger or three to a random Rottweiller / Bear / whatever and still be able to play complex riffs perfectly on their beat up Fender strat copy with half it’s strings missing. Men will once more become real men, women will become real women, and anyone in between will stop caring about what they’re called and we can all get on with our day in peace. We may thus consign ‘hate crimes’ to the garbage can of social history. Well I can dream, can’t I?

Just as a matter of interest I used to know a guy who lost most of his fingers to an industrial press, but could still play guitar like Jimi Hendrix on steroids. Seriously, he was a Rock God. Even with all my intact digits I used to feel lame and clumsy in his presence, listening to him launch into ‘all along the watch tower’ note perfect, or do a highly competent Angus Young impersonation (But without the schoolboy outfits) with only three stumps, one and a half thumbs, and the calloused balls of his ex-fingers.

Which begs the question; would he have ever scaled such skillful heights without his injury, or had he not lost his digits would he still be stuck in the same old factory job? There are legions of people out there like my guitar playing example, damaged but choosing to rise above their injury rather than whining their way to obscurity. We rarely hear their stories, yet if we look, they are all around us. Everyday people doing extra-ordinary, but very ordinary things. Because they choose not to be victims.

We are what our choices make us. In my acquaintances case it was running his own music store and a very good tribute band. But he was a joy to listen to.

Another old saying

Taken from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, act iv, scene iii;

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

Today is a good day to take a breath, roll the dice and see what comes up, good or bad.

I may end up a poorer man, but I think not. My broker and I will have a chat this morning and it is my intent to send some investment money winging it’s way marketwards. Which is part of what I do as an investor, take a deep breath and trust people to not piss my hard earned up the wall. After the initial market panic there are people who still need to work, and if I can be in some small way instrumental in helping a company stay afloat, providing capital to pay wages and all the myriad expenses of providing services and goods then my conscience is clear and my heart light.

For my investment I expect a modest return to recoup my losses, first when greatly devalued shares rebound, then reap the dividends, which are essentially interest on a loan made to a given business. By doing this I am not hoarding, hiding my scant resources in commodities like precious metals, but making a gift of faith which, it is hoped, will benefit all concerned.

If everything still goes even further pear shaped, then I will take comfort in the words of Steve Knightley; “You’ll get by” sigh heavily and start over. I’ve had to before.

There is hope out there in these trying times. All you have to do is have a little faith.

The upside and the downside

Many moons ago I learned the basics of SWOT analysis. SWOT standing for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Every situation is full of them and even the hazardous have an upside. What might seem a showstopper from one perspective will be a positive boon in another. So it is with this Covid-19 pandemic.

Because one thought does rear it’s curious little head among all the panic over the Covid19 pandemic; it’s a real crisis. A one hundred percent genuine, accept-no-substitute global crisis. Whole countries are in quarantine, tourism has slowed to a trickle and we’re all being encouraged to participate in ‘social distancing’, which I’m actually beginning to enjoy.

The thought is this; given that this is a real crisis, not a largely imaginary one cooked up by grant hungry academics, what is going to happen to all these imaginary crises? Man made climate change for example. Seems to me that St Greta of the Thunderous bum has slipped off the headlines. Gender awareness and alphabet soup ‘rights’ likewise have fallen off the saddle of the high media-political horse they once occupied.

With whole countries in lockdown, all the research money going to find a treatment or ‘cure’ and NGO rent-a-mobs confined to their student digs, how will anyone have any time for these previous headline grabbers which were nothing more than academic fakery anyhow?

How intriguing…..

I’ll mull this over a glass or two of wine.

In the doghouse

“I’m always in trouble, it’s only the depth that varies” could almost be my family motto. Mrs S has a dose of cabin fever already, and guess who’s in the firing line. I seem to be able to do no right.

Was it my snoring last night? Well that’s me consigned to the spare bedroom then. No doubt I’ll even get complained at for that.

Something is amiss, and I’m not sure what it is, but it’s got me hunting out my body armour.

Hey, the weather is nice, so maybe I should get the Mutt insured and push off for a two hundred K ride. I’ll probably get castigated for ‘running away’, but what the hell, at over a hundred no-one can hear the phone ring.

Update: Mrs S is just grumpy because she’s got a little cabin fever and has apologised for being snappy at me, so we’re all good. I didn’t lose my job (There may even be a promotion in the pipeline). I’ve even spare cash to invest in rock bottom blue chips, even though my investments are a bit down overall. The infection curve of Covid19 is moving according to prediction, so the markets should start to bounce back in mid / late April.

The kids are fine; I did offer them a little financial support, but the message came back that they don’t need it, which I’m cool with.

Generally speaking I’m still in the doghouse, but things could be much worse. Even the Mutt has a new cover and security locks.

Antidote

No, no, we haven’t found a cure for anything. This is just an offering to combat the current doom and gloom being flung all over the place.
It’s the first flower in my little jungle of citrus plants inhabiting the sunny corner of my kitchen. Innit pretty?

The bad news is that I may lose one of my part time jobs tomorrow because my company is electing to ‘rationalise’ the division that I work for. On the other hand I may be asked to do more as I’m used to working online and may have to train up new staff. These are the uncertainties we live with. Worst case scenario has been planned for.

What the hell. My Grapefruit plant, grown from a store bought grapefruit pip, is blossoming. We must take our little victories where we may.

Utter coblenz

There’s complete cobblers running around Twatter that the Johns Hopkins Covid19 stats site is infested with malware and trojans. Newsflash kiddies! I run a premium antivirus suite and ran a series of scans while online via a VPN. See result below.

Did the ‘Advanced’ scan too. Same thing. This isn’t freeware either. I keep my pro antivirus bang up to date.

Two possible conclusions; either there are no Trojans and Malware as claimed on Twatter or my Antivirus suite is crap (It isn’t). Well you might say, but, but, but the malware claims are on Twatter so they must be true.

To which the only sane response is “Yeah, right.

A Sarcastic gentleman abroad.