Category Archives: End times

Hey ho

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Well I’m going in to be tested for Covid-19. To have a naso-pharangeal swab sloshed around me sinuses and sent to stand on the naughty step for forty eight hours afterward to wait for my results to come in. To which Mrs S retorted. “Well Bill, what hast thou wrought?”

We’d discussed the possibility last week while I was feeling a few sparkles less than my usual glitter. I’ve had a little tight feeling in the tubes and a morning cough that seems to have a will of its own, so I thought “Why not? I might find out whether or not I’ve had the wretched disease so I can move on with my life.”

So this morning I made the call to my Doctors office, saying I’d like to be tested. Just in case. They said they’d give me a call back. Five minutes later I got a call from a call centre worker, to whom I recounted my rather mild symptoms. She said she’d get back to me. Another five minutes late the phone rang. It was the call centre person again, who gave me an approximate testing date. Tomorrow. Late morning. To which I said “Fine. I’ll be there.” I looked up the site online and this was followed ten minutes later by another incoming call. From the same call centre worker. “I’ll get the nurse to call you.” A nurse has time to call me? Okay. Two more brief calls from a nurse, who took a short medical history from me to confirm what I had on my records matched hers and we arranged the time. With detailed instructions on where to go, who to talk to and what to do.

But not so fast Mr Sticker. During the calls I established that the local health bods are only checking for if you’ve got the wretched Chicom Disease in the here and now, not running blood tests for antibodies so they can get a picture of the Provinces immunity. Which would be a far more useful picture to have, as, if as I strongly suspect, that immunity to this nasty bug is a lot more widespread than the politicians and media might think. Wouldn’t that be more useful to know? Track the immune response within a population rather than trash the economy by locking it down forever and ever? Or does no one have a cheap and reliable blood test for the two main types of antibodies? Or are the public to wait forever for a vaccine? Which won’t do anyone much good if they’ve already had a bout of a disease and their white blood cells have already been programmed to produce antibodies when a particular infection occurs. Because that’s the simple model of how your immune system works. Infection / exposure, recovery, immunity.

Yes I’m aware of what some of the ‘experts’ have been saying, and some of it doesn’t make sense. My training is thirty plus years out of date. But I can remember enough to get by, and what I don’t know, I know where to look and who to listen to. The thing is that there’s a whole heap of plain, unadulterated bollocks being talked by otherwise educated people. Like about disease spread and how immunity is generated.

Now I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, so I looked it up that you can have innate (Natural or Nonspecific) immunity, which may be hereditary, natural, species, racial or individual. Acquired (Specific, Adaptive or Memory) immunity like from being vaccinated. Or finally an active or passive immune response. For a more in depth description, follow this link. All biological pathogens follow this response. This is the state of our knowledge. Immunity 101 for dummies. All else is wild speculation.

If I have managed to catch a bout of the dreaded lurgi, it may mean even more time sitting alone in my office with just four screens for company. But I’ve managed almost nine weeks so far since March 10th. Nine bloody weeks.

At least there are some reasonable buds on the roses. Hey ho.

Monday is coming…

Mrs S and I were discussing this on the journey out to the accountants today. For the UK I think that the lockdown will shortly be coming to an end. Our reasons for thinking this? Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclownish PM is back in the saddle on Monday morning. He has to make a show that he is back in control and what better way than to take advantage of the shrinking death rate by beginning to lift the ‘stay at home’ restrictions and let certain businesses open, declaring that “Britain is back in business.”

He’s had time away from the political firing line to gather his thoughts. He’s had time to risk assess, to consider. Now he has a very small window in which to react. Seven days, tops.

If the NHS is anything like over here it’s understressed. Which is quite likely given the reports of primary health workers, including Doctors and Nurses, having time to rehearse dance routines for Tik Tok.

According to this web site, we on Vancouver Island (at the time of writing) only have one person in ICU and five hospitalised with the dreaded lurgi. Seventy one cases (81%)have registered as recovered. For the more densely populated Metro Vancouver, they have fifty in hospital and eighteen in ICU. Out of a population of two and a half million. The worst is past. See screen shot below.

He should also really let Ms Patel off the leash to discipline those Police Commissioners forcing the UK Police to do all the cringeworthy stuff they’ve been observed doing during the lockdown. Not to mention direct the courts to strike down all those quarantine tickets that were, in my view, highly counter intuitive.

We could do with something similar on this side of the pond. Break time is over. Time to get back to work. Oh, and to stop buying cheap stuff from China.

Update: Watch the video below. Yes it’s long, and Ferguson was wrong about BREXIT, something he later conceded he was wrong about. But, on this occasion I think they’re right, the sluggish big state got us into this mess, but it’s individuals and smaller, private groups that can get us out.

I disagree on how to handle ‘climate change’, but that’s another discussion.

Mutatis mutandis

Was just browsing the science sources and a recent paper flagged up on my radar. Fun fact; did you know there are three variants of Covid-19? I didn’t, until a short while ago. Variant A is the original ‘Bat’ flu. Variant B, found in Wubei, mainly affects Chinese Asian people. Variant C is now endemic in the West.

Researchers have also documented 10 mutations in the viral journey from Wuhan to Mexico for example. So not only is the Wu-flu contagious, but it’s out in the wild and mutating now. This is not the change that was sought, surely?

Oh whoopee.

So tell me again, why are we still allowing flights out of China to land in the West?

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.

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.

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.

Hello, hello, hello….

Knees bend, arms stretch…. What’s all this then? Just dived into the Johns Hopkins site of doom and noticed something very interesting on the Covid19 stats. See below next to my little green star. Original dataset here.

The Orange data points are the Mainland China infection stats, the Green are total recovered and the Yellow, total infections. Do you see what I see? The yellow data points just did something curious. They’re beginning to top out already instead of carrying on climbing vertically, as expected.

Is that a bullet I hear whistling past?

All right, this may be just a data glitch and the next few days will confirm many more infections, but this has me wondering; is this the beginning of the end?

A little pain

Just had my broker on the phone in a bit of a flat spin. He tells me our investments are 7% down with this scare over Covid19. By way of context, the Market overall has plummeted 24%. Ouch, right? Now you know why capitalism doesn’t work Bill, got the message? No. We’re not wiped out, we’ve just taken a heavy knock, that’s all. Only lost 7% when others have dropped almost a quarter? I’d say we’re doing pretty well all things considered. The Canadian Dollar has just taken a big hit too, so what we had is worth less. If the markets burn completely then we’re all fucked, royally so.

However, money is like river water, it can evaporate, but then comes down as rain. It can get polluted, but can be filtered and boiled. It has flows and currents but you can’t ‘destroy’ it except by electrolysis. Making it is hard. Hanging on to what you make is harder still until you learn to use the flows to your advantage.

In the meantime Capitalism is working just fine for me. The markets will rebound in a month or so and I will have ploughed a chunk of reserve capital from last years gains back in as the markets bottom out, therefore in the medium term will make quite a handsome profit, the tax man’s bite notwithstanding. For the moment we’re biting the bullet and not doing the headless chicken thing like all so many others.

My investment strategy is fairly conservative anyway and relies on recouping any potential share value losses from dividends, rather than relying on the ups and downs of share value alone. Any paid dividends are saved in a cash reserve and reinvested when the market takes a big hit like about now. It’s not dragon magic. Read the Tao of Warren Buffett. Very enlightening. We did exactly the same over the 2017-18 new year market ‘correction’ and made back well over double our losses.

As for being around when any rampaging pitchfork toting mob comes to call (Sorry, the capitalist pig isn’t in – try the next street over), looking for ‘wealthy’ (Or even modestly well off) people to asset strip, we won’t be. Firstly, we’re three parts of the way up a nice steep hill in a fairly anonymous suburb, so any rampaging mob will be just about having their second heart attack by the time they get to our relatively modest door with the ‘quarantine’ sticker on. Secondly we’ll have faded like a Cheshire cats smile into the background, having moved all our kit out the week before. Thirdly my broker, lawyer and accountant get well paid for protecting and shifting our hard earned. They do their jobs. We make them money.

We’re good at being light on our feet in our family. For background; Mrs S once got caught up in the 1990 Taylor coup in Liberia and I’ve lost the roof over my head a couple of times, so we’re not exactly amateurs at this game. Once bitten etc. All you really need is a light backpack, a spare credit card, a laptop and a few sets of fresh underwear, then take the back roads to the nearest ferry, airport or safe haven. The rest is only stuff. It can be replaced.

What I’m trying to say is; this too shall pass. Don’t lose your heads. Covid19 is nasty but it’s not the Black Death. For perspective; in the UK the excess Winter deaths 2017-18 were about 23,000. Out of a comparable population of 60,000,000, that means a total extra death toll of a smidge over 3,000, which compared to the overall stats is but a pimple. Not much fun if you suffer the full effects, but 88% of those infected may not even notice, or pass it off as a seasonal sniffle. Still, it pays to be cautious.

The economic pain we’re getting at present is only going to last until Spring. Yes it’s unpleasant, but it’s not the end of the world, no matter what the lamestream say. To quote one US President; the only thing we need to fear is fear itself. I say; hang tough and sit it out, then wait for the first person to say “What was all the fuss about?” That’s when you’ll know it’s all over.

Now wash your hands

This is a general post about the need for personal hygiene. Wash your hands. Properly. Keep your hands to yourself as well. I mean it.

The Covid19 virus outbreak is now a global pandemic in all but name and we should try not to further the spread. Official current status here.

Covid19 is a nasty bug, it is worse than its sister coronoviruses, which are responsible for the common cold and a variety of other influenzas, but it’s not the black death. The death rate is much higher than common Influenza and will speed the demise of those who are already chronically ill with heart disease, diabetes etc. However, and this is a big however, it is not as bad as some might have you think. In it’s worst form it will hit the hygienically careless individual like a sledgehammer, but there are ways of limiting the spread. As any fule should kno, when even medical staff are dying of it, you can bet your ickle pink bootees that it’s a bad ‘un. So, best to avoid catching it in the first place.

That established, what do we do to minimise the spread? To do this, first you have to understand the major modes of transmission.

Droplet;
Ah yes, the old ‘coughs and sneezes spread diseases’ meme. If you’re going to sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or you will spread whatever lurgi you have, and even some you don’t know you have at around thirty five metres per second (Yikes! Just under 80mph). In the case of flu or a cold, the video below will fill in a few fun facts.

In the case of Covid19, that specific nasty little bug has demonstrated a two week window(!) in which simply touching a contaminated surface will likely spread the infection. Even after that, it might be a good idea to give the surface a quick (but thorough) wipe with a concentrated bleach solution or a good hard dose of UV radiation. Or both.

Interpersonal;
Hugs and kisses are a great way of passing on any given micro-organism. Diseases of all types agree that this is the easiest way to get around in their daily commute between hosts. Even simply shaking hands is an avenue of possible infection if one or the other party has been a little careless with their personal handwashing. So if like me, you aren’t a hugger to start with, this is a brilliant excuse to politely fend off those who seem to like doing limpet impersonations with every single social interaction. Might also be a good idea to go for a vigorous stroll instead of relying on public transport for one’s daily commute. If at all practicable.

Faecal;
This is one most people do not even think they are doing and why it is important to wash your hands properly after they have been anywhere near your toilet bits. See below for an approved method. Learn it.

This is because Covid19 can be transmitted via faecal matter. It should be noted that those from cultures who wash their toilet parts with only water and their left hand are especially prone to spreading the disease via this route, especially if washing hands after a visit to the smallest room is a bit rushed. Better still not to let your digits anywhere near those areas unless they are going to get at least a sixty second antiseptic scrub afterwards. Iran being a case in point. Their infection / death rates are much higher than the norm for this bug and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Sexual;
Covid19 is a tenacious little bugger, and appears to be able to spread via the exchange of bodily fluids, especially if the bits involved have not been washed properly prior to getting down and dirty, so to speak. Think of it like popping a breath mint before getting up close and personal. A courtesy. Besides, it’s a gesture of respect, showing you care about your chosen bedmate by ensuring your pleasure parts are all bright and sparkly.

To conclude;
Decent personal hygiene, such as frequent and thorough washing of hands will reduce the risk of contracting and passing on this nasty bug, thus a reduced risk of premature clog popping, which any sensible individual will want to avoid. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing likewise. No need for mask or gloves, you’re not in operating theatre, just small sensible precautions may help save you from a possible very nasty bout of illness.

Let’s all be careful out there.

This has been a public service announcement.

Update:
You know the old piece of folk wisdom about the best treatment for colds and flu being fresh fruit, fresh air and moderate exercise? Well, all of these assist with vitamin D conversion in the body. A brisk early morning stroll and a modest dose of cod liver oil or vitamin D supplement could reduce your suffering, should you be unfortunate enough to contract even a seasonal cold or flu, never mind Covid19, by over half. See the video below for dosing information and where and when vitamin D supplements can be useful.

Taking my own advice and that included in the above video, I’m ensuring that my vitamin D levels are kept up to snuff by a modest daily dose of 500mg (two capsules) of cod liver oil, the occasional snack of sardines on toast, while Mrs S goes for a canned tuna melt a couple of times a week. We both try to get out for a stroll, or at least outside as often as possible and are hoping that this will be enough to fend off the worst of cold and flu season, regardless of any other virulence.

A Poem for these times.

Watching Canada breaking, the coronavirus heading toward pandemic status and the stock market doing somersaults. These are momentous times where the man who can stand firm and walk his way despite every obstacle will eventually win through. Where walking his own path, away from the craziness, is his only option. So it is with me. My investments have taken a hit but I’m not going to panic. The markets are having a tizz and there’s nothing constructive I can do except stand fast.

Markets always bounce back because people need to trade. Without trade we all starve in the dark.

How do I know this? It’s an article of faith with me. A simple faith drawn from the stoic tradition of my forbears, and one echoed in a poem written over a hundred years ago. One which has hung on my wall so long I can pretty much recite it by heart. Don’t have to look. The truth it encapsulates is timeless. Here it is, read by Michael Caine.

Addendum:

When that fails I often recite the following little ditty to myself, one penned around the same era by Walter Alexander Raleigh – “Wishes of an Elderly Man Wished at a Garden Party”

I wish I loved the human race,
I wish I loved it’s silly face,
I wish I loved the way it walked,
I wish I loved the way it talked,
And when I’m introduced to one,
I wish I thought, “What jolly fun.”

It’s tough to make predictions…..

“….especially about the future” thus spake Baseball hero Yogi Berra. However, I’ve been looking at a post written over five years ago about the state of nuclear fusion. Nothing has happened to change my mind since then. Not even news of the German Wendelstein 7-X Stellerator. It’s still only half way to sustainable fusion. And it’s still a Tokamak at heart. Yes, they do work, after a fashion. However, the design concept has it’s limitations. I’m not a nuclear engineer and even I can see that. Although I dare say those involved have their doubts and would like to follow a better track, but nuclear physics is expensive and short sighted politicians hold the purse strings. So, Tokamaks it is.

About the future, you never know what is coming around the bend. In our case it was having to chase up Highway One, exercise our power of attorney for Elderly Friend who fell off her chair and brok her arm, then getting a flat at 8pm on our way home. Then finding out, having driven like Miss Daisy all the way home in pitch darkness on a skinny spare, that the one inch screw causing the puncture had done so in such a way as to render any attempted repair useless. On a brand new tyre with less than five hundred K’s on it no less. So, there’s another two hundred and fifty dollars down the pan.

Oh, did I mention that Accounts are getting on my case over a minor matter? They’re stressing over me not doing something I couldn’t have done because I wasn’t given the right information in time on Friday. They want it done now, now, now and aren’t prepared to wait while I deal with the chaos caused by all the other work related matters where some clever clogs was using our departments credit card for stuff they weren’t entitled to. Which means we have to get a new departmental one issued. Which shuts part of our operation down for two whole weeks.

So it’s all been fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fucking hell, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

Oh joy.

Could be worse I suppose. Could be in China. Plague of Locusts, Coronovirus plague. No frogs, boils or rains of blood (Wait a minute, what was that in 2014?) yet, and the firstborn don’t seem to be affected, but we shall see.

nCoV 19 again

Presented without comment, three videos which shed a more scientific light on what is happening with the new virus on the street and why it differs from other doses of the flu.

Link to live data from Johns Hopkins.

Coronovirus 2019 nCoV

Right. Have been trying to keep up with the news from China etc regarding this new end of the world scenario. This time in the form of a possible lab mutated Flu virus. Among all the fake news and conspiracy theory stuff there is so much conflicting information. We have confirmed cases in Toronto and Vancouver, some have been reported from the US. And almost every seasonal cough and sneeze seems to be attributed to it. This is a happy time for hypochondriacs. For a slightly more downbeat report, see below.

This is not to downplay the situation. This is a nasty bug with a reported 2% mortality rate. Compare that against 80,000 deaths in the USA alone during cold and flu season 2017-18. Not to mention the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and the fuss over SARS. Again from the far east, the ‘bird flu’ and Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV, another Coronovirus) pandemics were considered serious threats which then burned out.

Out here on the Pacific rim we’ve got a big Chinese community and lots of active links direct into Vancouver from Beijing and environs. Chinese New Year events are being cancelled over here. West Vancouver won’t happen. Distribution of Chinese movies has been affected. So if you’re a fan of far east action flicks, you might have a bit of a wait. Hong Kong Chinese New Year celebrations have been cancelled, partly because of the continuing protests, now with the added impetus of infection. Looks like the year of the rat will be sneaking in very quietly.

For myself I’m not worried. My antibodies should be active enough as Mrs S and I had a nasty Coronovirus flu type infection in November 2019, so are less likely to contract a variant. This not to say we won’t catch it, but our respective immune systems should have enough active antibodies to successfully fight it off.

We also have no plans for transatlantic travel until September this year. So no infection risk from being crammed in an alloy tube for ten hours with another 2-300 people breathing their contagions into a semi closed cycle air conditioning system. However, a prolonged trip to Ireland for September / October is in train and we’re going to book our flights this week. We’re also looking at long term car hire in the Emerald Isle for around two months. So if anyone has any suggestions, we’ll be glad to hear them.

Update: There’s a lot of conflicting information coming out and very little clarity. The updated death rate has gone up to 4% in Wuhan, but from what I gather about the seat of infection, the whole release was a massive cock-up on the part of the lab where the Viral agent was being studied. Now of course it’s in the wild, what happens next is anyone’s guess. Canada doesn’t seem too concerned as screening appears minimal. Hong Kong on the other hand has shut down all train travel between it and the rest of China.

See below for a peculiarly Canadian take on this issue. Amongst others.