Category Archives: Random ramblings

Toilet troubles

Aaand as the Policeman said, to paraphrase an old joke, we’ve less to go on. One of our toilets is missing. Fortunately we have two bathrooms, but what this does is put one bathroom completely out of order. Specifically Mrs S’s domain. A matter that has led to some mild domestic friction.

As we currently live in rented accommodation, maintenance is our landlords issue to deal with. While the outside world appears locked down or subject to rioting and cities burn, more practical matters colour our days. Specifically being the minor inconvenience of being restricted to one bathroom. These frame built houses are warm and well insulated enough, but if you get a leak anywhere, it can be a real detective story to find where all the trickles come from.

The issues are that this; we live in a 1980’s built apartment where the wiring and plumbing don’t match the plans. For example, the shower pipework in one bathroom was never secured properly and has a habit of flexing slightly every time it is used. Now we find that there are two long term leaks in the second bathroom and utility room. Nothing major, little more than sweating from the joints.

The original build was bodged a little, presumably to keep things within schedule and price, as these things so often are.

The bathroom leak is from the wax sealing ring between the toilet and what is tweely referred to as the ‘black water’ outlet set in the floor. Meaning every time we flushed a droplet or two escaped from between the sealing ring and pipe into the surrounding floor. Over time this has caused a wet patch to lurk unseen between pedestal and floor, resulting in a small amount of staining in the apartment below.

So, the toilet has been disconnected and the floor is currently drying out. Which gives the guest bathroom a slightly surreal, but fortunately not too noisome, air. All the bathroom bits are sitting in the shower and the throne, so to speak, is sitting in a plastic tub like a rather unusual beige footstool.

The second leak is from where our washing machine overflow is plumbed into the wall. When the last washing machine was fitted, the overflow was bodged in and at the top end of the pipe, the wall fitting became slightly disconnected from the down pipe, only by a crack, but enough when the washing machine is spin drying that when the overflow backs up, a thimbleful of water sloshes out to trickle down the exterior of the pipe. Again, this gets between the studding and eventually stains the wall downstairs.

Christ alone knows what the wiring actually looks like behind the plasterboard. No wonder only a couple of the kitchen outlets can handle a microwave.

However, that’s a minor inconvenience as we’re heading out of Canada. My non-working days are currently filled collating quotes from movers, arranging cleaners for when we move out in September and all the sundry tasks associated with such a shift. Paperwork is the biggest burden. However, we are getting all our financial and legal ducks in a row and, toilet troubles notwithstanding, will be leaving Trudeaupia for good this year and the clock is ticking.

It’s been an interesting decade or so. Now it’s time to move on as things this side of the 49th are heading downhill with no likely hope of return. It’s only a matter of time before Ottawa and the provinces work out how to implement ‘social credit’ scores on the population using Covid-19 as an excuse. So we’re getting out to somewhere within reach of civilisation whilst we still have relative freedom of movement.

Haircut

Finally managed to get a haircut today. Nothing much, just a usual shearing as my few remaining hairs upstairs were getting a bit wild and woolly. Wearing a surgical mask while having my hair cut was a first. Finding out that the barbers I managed to get an appointment at would be fined twenty thousand dollars if I didn’t wear a mask gave me a serious “WTF” moment.

Twenty thousand dollars? If that’s not taking the piss, I don’t know what is. Hey, but my less than flowing locks needed a thorough shearing and tidy up, so I played along, even if I do think it’s seriously over the top. The worst of this pandemic has been over for weeks. The time for masks has come and gone.

The worst is over Bill? What utter nonsense. We’re all going to die howwibly in pools of blackened pus if we don’t cower in our homes like frightened mice in full PPE don’cha know.

Erm.. Riiight. Let’s do the math, as our colonial cousins are wont to say. Reported stats are as accurate as can be expected at time of writing.

Global infection count; 5.9 million out of a global population of 7.7 billion. Total deaths of those who died whilst infected with the Covid-19 virus even if that’s not what actually killed them; 362,731 (29th May). I’m going to be generous and round the death figures up a bit to 385,000. Just to get a picture of what might be the final total. Doing that, we get a global death rate of roughly 0.005% as an estimate. Current actual percentage of deaths from the global population calculates to 0.004705987012987013%.

By contrast, estimates of the Spanish flu pandemic death count from 1918-19 run to 50 million out of a global population at the time of around 1.7 billion, which gives us a percentage death rate of about 2.941176470588235%. Just under three people per hundred. Working by those population figures, the Covid-19 death rate would produce an excess 850 excess deaths in the entire world. The Spanish Flu epidemic wins by a whopping 50 million to 850. So Covid-19 is 1/635th less lethal as the flu epidemic of 1918-19 was. Think about that. Less than six hundred times less likely to kill someone? That and the figures are bottoming out. This phase is over. SARS-Covid-19 is, epidemiologically speaking, a damp squib. At least until November, when cold and flu season starts to pick up again.

Never mind all the people who died awaiting treatment when there was excess hospital capacity and medical staff were being ‘furloughed’. This whole situation has been badly mismanaged.

Another thing which is filtering through to my attention is the excess death count in old people’s homes, which is where the majority of deaths have occurred. This only occurs where infected patients have been returned to these facilities before being fully recovered, thus spreading the infection into a vulnerable population where co-morbidities are abundant. This has happened a lot in Quebec and Ontario and is most prevalent in Democrat administered States below the 49th parallel. Not so much in Republican administered states. A state of affairs which brings mention of ‘corporate manslaughter’ drifting through my mind. Has there been a cynically applied policy to cull the elderly by certain administrations? A thought that makes my cynicism meter strain against the stop. If so, was it by malignity or just outright incompetence? Either way, when this is all over there will be many cases to answer.

Like being compelled to wear a mask while having a haircut, this whole situation has devolved from an unknown threat to the outright bizarre. It’s got to the point where far too many people are frightened of their own shadows. As are our ‘leaders’, although I think they’re more frightened of an ignorant and rabid mainstream media trying to score points in a propaganda war and are simply throwing bones to keep the dogs busy.

On the plus side, the carnations in our little deck garden are putting up a fine display, and our two roses are budding very nicely. Unfortunately, since we are leaving BC shortly for good I am going to have to give up my experiment with citrus plant growing. The Lemon tree and grapefruit plants I have been nurturing will have to go. Never mind, I’ve proved it can be done, so I can restart the experiment when we land elsewhere.

Old school

So, the evidence is in.

Fresh air, sunshine, good diet, moderate exercise and good basic hygiene are your best way of avoiding getting sick. From any respiratory disease. Extra Vitamin D and a little extra zinc won’t come amiss either. While a bunch of cowardly politicians shut down whole economies, making us all wait for some miracle vaccine, which may not work or even be downright dangerous as some have posited. For a virus that only really kills the already sick.

I tend to avoid flu jabs for two simple reasons. First; the mutation rate of this class of viruses is very high, so any vaccine will not work as well as one for say, Yellow Fever, Polio, Diptheria, Mumps or Rubella. Second; I react badly to that class of vaccination. It temporarily weakens my immune system. This is a personal thing and I’m not sure why it is.

For example; whenever I’ve had a flu shot I can guarantee that I will get the next influenza virus that the vaccine didn’t cover, which I tend to be rather vulnerable to. So, I politely demur when such a vaccine is on offer. I know I will get sick if I have the jab, so instead of vaccination I take my vitamins, get out as often as possible and and go my merry way.

Other vaccines against viruses that do not mutate as quickly as those which attack the respiratory system I have no problem with. I am not an ‘anti-vaxxer’. Life has taught me that I have certain metabolic vulnerabilities like some people have allergies to shellfish or nuts, ergo I consciously avoid the things that I react badly to. The odd liver and bacon sandwich doesn’t come amiss either. Mainly because I like the taste, but also because liver is dirt cheap and chock full of things like vitamin A, folic acid, iron, and zinc in a readily digested form. All good for the immune system. On a cold winters day liver and bacon is always good for a boost when I’m feeling a bit peaky. An apple or orange at least once every other day helps too. Much tastier than any vaccine.

But then that’s always been the case. Well nourished people who get plenty of sunshine and fresh air tend not to get sick very often. This is simple old school stuff. And just because something is old school doesn’t mean it is bad or worthless. Quite the opposite.

Probability bingo

Got into a minor comments spat with a certain gentleman on Youtube recently over the Wu-flu pandemic lockdown that our spineless politicians don’t currently seem to have a plan for getting us out of. At least in Canada the lockdown rules are being applied very unevenly. Politicians may go to their Summer cottages or visit friends and family, but should your average John Q Public try it, the Cops are all over them like a cheap suit.

It’s a bugger if like me you need a decent haircut and you can’t get one because all the barbers are still closed ‘by order’. Although the politicians all look well groomed enough in their TV appearances. Doesn’t look like their significant others are doing their haircuts either. Boris Johnson excepted. We’re talking Canadian politicians here.

Anyway, I stated four known facts for which I had primary source information, a ‘thought crime’ for which this person labelled me and others ‘simple minded conspiracy theorists’. He may have been right about them, but I was not amused about being lumped in with the real tin foil hat wearers. He pointed anyone who was interested to a ‘debunking’ video by someone calling themself ‘potholer24’. I won’t link to it, but I found this specific ‘debunking’ video full of rather dubious rhetorical traps for the unwary.

In my quest for evidence this exchange gave me pause for thought and I thought I’d check my sources and run an additional evaluation of them. Were they primary as I thought, or simply part of anti-Chinese Communist Party propaganda from Australia, India, Taiwan and other English speaking Asian sources?

There’s a form of decision making I use that I call ‘probability bingo’, which loosely translates as “If the facts line up”, which is the process I use after a ‘reductio ad absurdum‘ exercise to cut through the media corn. This is the rational threshing floor upon which I try to winnow reliable facts from Fark. It’s not an exact process, but as a quick and dirty decision making tool, normally good enough.

My algorithm normally works like this; Someone has stated a ‘fact’ which to me sounds counter-intuitive, I ask myself – is this a real or a political fact? What is the supporting evidence? How accurate are the sources? Or are they simply trying to snow me with rhetorical tricks?

Say for example that someone makes the claim that the EU has kept the peace in Europe over the last seventy years. Do the facts support this? No. NATO has secured peace in the West in counterbalance with the USA forming the largest part of an occupation force along the eastern border of mainland Europe. The EU has no military component (yet), but it’s member nations, as a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have done so. The claim that the EU has ‘kept the peace in Europe’ fails the probability bingo test because it only crosses off one number on the probability bingo card, whereas NATO, as a military organisation, under the leadership of the USA, has provided a bulwark against possible aggression from the East and Soviet Russia, thus making at least one line across and a couple of diagonals as well on my probability bingo card. Not quite a full house, but close enough.

As for the other claims that the EU is somehow a benign institution and not a club for bureaucrats who could not run a bath in real life, one need only read the content of the EU’s own web site. It’s all there. The plans for a common Police force, armed forces and intelligence service. Ever closer union. Well it was when I last looked. If they’re bragging about it on their own web site, the likelihood that “It’s just a conspiracy theory” can be safely pointed to as a form of conspiracy theory in it’s own right.

Similarly; the probability bingo for the origins of Covid-19 tend to line up. Chinese state media were, several years ago, lauding one of the lead researchers from the Wuhan lab for bravery shown during his collection of bat virus samples to find the cause of bronchial infections to miners in caves some 40-50km from Wuhan. So there is a high probability of virus samples being brought back to that lab for inspection as that was his base. The Wuhan lab in question has also had multiple reports of poor containment protocols from US Diplomatic sources as far back as 2016. CCP employed researchers have demonstrated a singularly cavalier attitude to biological samples, even to the point of being found with such samples in their carry on luggage passing through US customs. Then there was the well publicised arrest and deportation of three Chinese researchers from a Canadian lab for nicking biological samples and sending them to China. Pictures have surfaced of Wuhan lab workers injecting bats / taking biological samples from them at the Wuhan lab wearing street clothes. Hardly good practice. The bat species host to the original Covid-19 variant A, were not known to be sold in the notorious ‘wet’ market of Wuhan. Assertions to the contrary have no supporting evidence apart from a couple of doctored photographs. So, the probability bingo score for a lab release is not a full house at this juncture, but one line across and a diagonal are good enough for an educated value judgement. Representatives of the Chinese Communist Party can threaten and bluster all they like, but the basic facts line up against them.

Nothing matters but facts. All else is rhetoric.

Because these observable facts line up, there is a high probability, but not yet conclusive proof, which incidentally, we may never obtain because of the major arse-covering going on in CCP quarters, that the original virus was being worked on within the Wuhan lab. Whether the Covid-19 viruses release was accidental or deliberate one can judge from the immediate reaction of the local CCP chiefs, who first went into denial, then panicked with massive over-reactions. The probability bingo score, or burden of proof if you like, indicates that this release was a cock-up rather than conspiracy.

That evidence of ham-fisted local covering up of the virus release by local Chinese Authorities is known and documented. The release became a pandemic because the response was delayed for weeks, thus allowing regional, then national and international contamination. The current propaganda blitz of denial, like “Oh no, it ain’t so” or “You’re a waaaacist” can be dismissed as pure “Quia inquam sic” (Because I say so) rhetoric and thus not credible as there is no hard data to back it up. Likewise ‘debunkers’. You cannot argue from a vacuum.

So, does this make me a ‘simple minded conspiracy theorist’? I say not. I may occasionally toy with conspiracy theories because there is a possibility they may contain some small truths, but I do try to moderate my curiosity with a well honed scepticism. As for being ‘simple minded’, I leave that for my last remaining reader to judge.

Breathe

Just had an unexpected alteration notification for our flights in September which had me going for a moment. Turned out to be nothing more than a change of aircraft, but my own reaction caught me off guard. I almost lost it. An unsuspected panic rolled up my spinal chord and tried to throttle my brain. Which came as a nasty shock. I had no idea I was so tightly wound up.

That was while I was still awaiting my Covid-19 test results and whatever fallout that might bring, so I suppose that was preying on my mind somewhat. Work too has been less than issue-free. Despite working hard to keep my little bit of the economy rolling, dark clouds were looming over my employment prospects, yet again. Still, these little anxieties creep up on you. What’s the one about being up to your arse in alligators while trying to remember that you’re supposed to be draining the swamp? Me too.

Two good bits of goodish news have followed on from Tuesday’s appointment, my cough has loosened up and the sensation of tightness in the old tubes has turned into each clearing of throat bringing up a little clearish sticky phlegm. So the extra vitamin D and Zinc supplements appear to have done their thing. And the Doctor just rang. Not his office, our new locum doctor. I am officially Covid-19 lurgi free. Which is nice. It was a different virus. Oh joy.

One thing that would lower my stress levels to below boiling is for the disappearance of the nightly seven o’clock chorus of rattling pans and wind chimes, honking horns and cowbell ringing. This, we are informed, is supposed to ‘thank’ hospital staff. How the hospital staff will know I have no idea, perhaps they have amazing hearing. Considering people are dying because they aren’t getting treated for heart disease or cancer because all the hospitals are waiting for a crisis that just went sailing on by in late March, I think those ‘thanks’ should be moderated somewhat. I also hear rumours that medical staff are being ‘furloughed’ because there’s not enough for them all to do. Which would tie in with my observations of the bored staff at the testing station on Tuesday.

Jesus H Christ on a velocipede! Is the world really this freaking stupid or are Mrs and I the last sensible people left alive in our neck of the woods? All Canada and the rest of the world needed to do was shut the door on mainland Communist China and the threat would have subsided long since. But no, the powers that be, at least here in Canada, are still busy trying to virtue signal everyone to death.

They’re not even intelligent enough to be considered halfwits.

Excuse me, I’m just off to collapse onto the bed with the relief that we’ve just successfully surfed over another series of mini-crises. I just need a little time out to breathe and count my blessings.

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.

The wrong experts

What is it with believing in mathematical models? Modelling is great for certain purposes like fluid dynamics and airflows where most of the variables are known and can sometimes help find out where the modelling is lacking. I’m not saying mathematical models are useless, but if they are incomplete or worse still, written in spaghetti code, they’re probably worse decision making guides than playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Let’s take for example the mathematical models for Covid-19 mortality from Imperial College. They have been way off by orders of magnitude. And when I say way off, the models predicted tens of millions of deaths. We were all going to be dropping like flies and have our worthless cadavers thrown into ditches. The reality is, at the time of writing, well under three hundred thousand deaths globally. Current public data here. Add to that little snippet that we are past the yearly peak for respiratory illness in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Imperial college models have failed time and time again. Their stochastic methodology is deeply flawed and has led to several public policy disasters, the current protracted UK lockdown being but one. Another was the foot and mouth epidemic that decimated UK agriculture in the 2000’s leading to kilometre long pyres of dead cattle burning in British fields. The one before that, Creutzfeldt Jacobs disease variant (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) that was going to see millions of gibbering and senile zombies lurching around Britain if anyone so much as looked at a British sourced beefburger. Total deaths over the last three decades? Under three hundred and fifty. A number of those being vegetarians who had never so much as sniffed animal protein. The vast majority of cases from sources like contaminated human growth hormone and badly sterilised implants, but none via blood transfusions, as the mathematical models from Imperial predicted.

They call the UK Governments advisory body SAGE. What form this sagacity is supposed to take makes you wonder. Perhaps SAGE could do with some better experts.

Fresh air and exercise

Work is frantic at the moment. I’m busy. But I try to get out of my office every couple of hours when the sun is shining to roll up my sleeves and just breathe deeply for ten minutes. This I believe will help me shrug off any potential lurgi because sunshine helps with vitamin D production. Vitamin D being essential to the immune system. I’ve also been taking extra Vitamin D (200UI per diem) and zinc supplements (The dietary kind) and some Echinacea, which I’m told helps the immune system shrug off upper respiratory tract infections. Not sure if they work, but, as the man said plummeting past the 30th floor, “So far so good.” A well balanced diet should have enough D, Zinc and other substances, but a little extra never hurts. I’d take a little Quinine as a precautionary anti-viral, because you need all the help you can get in this current pandemic, but it’s not available over the counter over here. Well, not that I’ve seen. So I’ll go without. Besides, if your immune system is in good nick, you probably won’t need it. Let your mast-t white blood cells do the heavy lifting.

Hey, I’m in one of the vulnerable age groups, so it pays to be cautious. I go by what I was first taught at home, thence later in hospital; mask up, take a supplement, keep your hands to yourself and wash your own hands frequently. And get out in the fresh air for a walk as often as possible. That which is disparaged as ‘folk wisdom’ by the powers that be over here in Canada, who have hardly covered themselves in glory during this pandemic. They’ve done all the wrong things; kept people indoors, fined them for ‘unnecessary journeys’, even chasing them out of public parks and off their front yards, which is incredibly stupid and counter productive. To reiterate; Fresh air is good for you. Staying indoors not good. Do I have to add ‘FFS!’. The Federal Liberals are totally unfit for purpose. As for that Tam creature (Some say it’s not a proper woman) repeating bad health advice just like the current leadership of the WHO. Stay indoors? Whoever gave that direction needs a serious reality check. Especially to an outdoor nation like Canada.

To be blunt, anyone forcing you indoors on a sunny day wants you to get sick. Seriously. This is because any house, no matter how well cleaned, is a sink of infection. Germs and viruses are a part of our lives. We ‘shed’ them all the time as part of our bodies natural processes. E.Coli, the various forms of Staph.aureus and a host of others are endemic (a disease or condition regularly found among particular people or in a certain area). to any household. Especially if you have kids. Even if living alone you swabbed your kitchen tops and bathrooms you’d be amazed at the various stuff you’ll find lurking thereon. You could of course burn everything to the ground, but even then something microbial would remain.

By way of a visual proof I’ve been trying to track down an old 1970’s public information film for schools about a suburban family who had paint put on their hands and were allowed to just go about their daily routines in a house mockup. Within five minutes, the spread was obvious in big paint splodges in some of the most surprising places. Not just doorknobs but everywhere. Furniture, clothing, carpets, walls, doors, windows. Everywhere. Each of those paint marks, the narrator told us, was where microbial agents (Bacteria & viruses) had spread to.

It is also useful to point out that bacteria and viruses do not, on the whole, like ultraviolet light in concentrated doses. There is a lot of UV in natural sunlight outside on a sunny day, even here above the 48th parallel. Which is why I step out onto our modest deck at every opportunity. If I had a garden I’d be out in it. Fresh air and the great outdoors are good for you, not only in promoting vitamin D conversion but also in killing the lurgi. Keeping people indoors, especially for those with darker than Northern European skin, could be classed as attempted genocide (I know, I know, it’s a bit of a reach). We are outdoor creatures at heart and this pandemic should drive that lesson home with a five pound lump hammer. Hiding indoors is not good for anyone. Viruses and bacteria luurve indoors. They hate UV.

You know the saying that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – well it’s true. Kind of. For a given value of “truth”. The more intense the UV, the less bacteria and viruses like it, although like with all things, too much is harmful to human skin and eyes. This is one of the reasons why flu season tails off in Spring and sunny countries like Australia haven’t suffered so much as northern Europe. It’s also why cultures that cover themselves top to toe will suffer more from any given infecting organism.

Bearing the aforementioned in mind; any tickets and fines issued to people just for being outdoors should be thrown out by the courts. And anyone ratting out their neighbours just for going out should be identified, permanently ostracised, bankrupted, ridden out of town on a rail and exiled to somewhere they can do no more harm. Like Antarctica. They are not fit for decent society. Only closet Nazis (Not the imaginary kind, the real nasty little sh*tes with all the social graces of a herd of incontinent Wildebeest) tell on their neighbours for something so petty. These are the same closet Nazis who will cower in their closets when the real bad guys are prowling about you understand. Oh they talk the big talk about ‘community’ but never, ever step up to the plate when needed. When the sunlight of disclosure hits them, you can have endless fun watching the bastards scuttling for cover like cockroaches.

Anyway, rant over for now. Work calls and I’m feeling fairly chipper having been given one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever had from Mrs S. Came completely out of the blue last night. I was being my usual jocular self prior to settling down to read in the front room when she said; “You know what Bill, there’s no-one I’d rather be in lockdown with.”

I must be doing something right. TTFN.

Who was that masked man?

To the dump, to the dump to the dump dump dump… as the loan arranger sang while riding into the sunset with a dustbin on the back of his horse.

On the home front, Mrs S has picked up an unpleasant 48 hour tummy bug. No idea where from. We haven’t been going out much over the last seven weeks except for essential purposes and have been doing the whole physical distancing / wearing gloves and masks. I had the same thing on Wednesday / Thursday and I’m pretty good about washing my hands and personal hygiene. So it must be something we ate. This led me to flush out things like the butter dish, clean the fridge and eliminate any food borne vectors as much as possible. Which is all you can do under the circumstances. She’s on the mend, poor lamb and will be fine by Tuesday.

This post is about masks (again)

Having actually worked in the front line in a hospital, we were used to wearing masks, and I even got a severe wigging on one occasion for picking up a filter, rather than a surgical mask while doing my OT (Operating theatre) placement several decades ago. The guy below reinforces what I was always taught, that the standard surgical mask is just as effective, if not slightly more so, than the much-vaunted N95 respirator.

Of course those selling N95’s will tell you different, but they are wrong because all face masks leak around the edges. The only way to get containment is with a full, air sealed Level A Hazmat suit with an independent air supply and / or filtration. The all over type with big hoods and clear panels. Or an aqualung respirator with positive pressure.

Besides, if you’re working in OT, the standard surgical mask is way more comfortable and doesn’t chafe or leave nasty red marks on your face after only half an hour. All any mask will do because, as I have said before, a masks primary purpose is reduce the radius of infection. Which is why surgeons and operating theatre staff wear surgical masks plus disposable clear face shields. Masks to contain the droplets that we all emit when breathing, and face shields to prevent backspatter from possibly infected patients. Prior to HIV and MRSA, highly infectious patients were rare, so wearing a face shield was not as common as nowadays.

Welcome to my nightmare

Well bless my raddled soul. Elder sibling has started his own blog, a chronicle, a mash up of personal experiences and events in the UK. In it he tells of the gripes and tribulations of living in his part of the UK, from supermarket beefs to the media stoked paranoia of certain people he encounters.

Here’s the type of thing he writes;

“I had to attend an outpatient clinic at our local hospital today. To my surprise, it was functioning as normal. No-one was wearing a mask and there were no signs of panic or hysteria.”

This seems to be a common thread. NHS Healthcare staff do not appear to be overstretched and can indulge in behaviours like doing dance routines on Tik tok, or conga lines to ‘celebrate’ an extubation. Look, if it were an all-hands-to-the-pumps situation, would primary healthcare staff have time to indulge themselves thus? Damn straight they wouldn’t.

Then he reports on the fake news items such as;

“Sarah Montague said that all pubs and leisure facilities in cities were closed “for good”.”

No doubt with a good deal of malicious relish on her part.

I have been requested to act as a consultant in this matter to let another frustrated voice into the wild and will be acting as his right hand man on how to handle all the wonders and witlessness of online life. Which could get interesting. At least we have ensured he has a confidential email and a few layers between him and the worst of the Internet. We shall see what we shall see.

No, I’m not going to link to his output, as elder sibling has not asked me to do so. If he does I’ll think about it. Better that he develops his own community.

Yes, he too detests what the BBC has become as I too loathe the fawning arse-licking the Canadian bought and paid for mass media goes in for when it comes to Canada’s glorious leader, that neo fascist Trudeau. Yes Trudeau is a neo-fascist, his government ticks all the boxes but the military one. He cloaks his disdain for all working class northern European descended males in talk of racism and sexism, but those two sins are something Trudeau indulges in all the time. Not sure why. Perhaps he feels threatened and like so many of the middle class, suffers from a deep self-loathing and sense of inadequacy.

Good news from the UK comes via political vlogger Mahyar Tousi. With added steak. Although I think Flat-Iron steaks are much nicer than Rib-Eye. Lovely buttery texture and more flavour.

So, all the accusations leveled against the Brexiteers have come to naught. For now.

Anyway. I’ve done the shopping, fed the hummingbirds and now it’s time to get back to the day job. Sometimes the fun never starts.

Oh no!

Glanced at my stalker counter Saturday and noticed that it was showing the dreaded number ‘666’. Does this mean this blog is now demonically possessed? Oo-er matron. Or even repossessed, but we’re not there by a long chalk. We’re still working. Money is still coming in to cover the bills and we’re beholden to no-one.

Got a surprise call from my Doctors surgery to tell me that my GP has retired (Decent old boy, a bit old school, but a very good GP) and the surgery was just checking up to see if I was still breathing as according to their records I hadn’t been in for the last two years or so, which is par for the course for my family. We don’t seek help until we need it. And don’t need it very often, if at all. As evidenced by a favourite hospital anecdote of my Mother’s which I shall recount below.

My late Mother (Six years gone now, how time flies) at age 95 went to a hospital out patient appointment for cataracts. Upon arrival she was interviewed by a clipboard wielding nurse.
Nurse with Clipboard: “Can you tell me what medications you take regularly?”
Ma Sticker: “None.”
Nurse with Clipboard: “I don’t think you understand me dear. I mean’t what pills do you take every day.”
Ma Sticker: “I understood you perfectly the first time. I have no prescription medication. No regular medication.”

Good old Ma, sharp as a tack to the end when faced with condescension. We Stickers are born members of the awkward squad. Generations of us. We take nothing at face value, especially if it comes from some authority figure. No reason, apart from that they will always have an agenda we don’t share and is probably not to our benefit.

Anything else to report? Not really. Mrs S has been on a conference video calls to the distaff side of the clan talking about introversion and such. I’m writing. Just a usual weekend in fact. We even took a stroll out to a windy downtown and meandered around an almost deserted park admiring blowsy Cherry trees shaking their booty of blossom. The Cafes and restaurants that are open are all doing take-outs. We walked and talked, enjoying the sunshine and remarking what a shame it is that Canada is economically fucked. And will remain so as long as wet lefties are in power.

Maybe in contrast, demonic possession doesn’t sound so bad.

Update:
Bojo has flubbed it.

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.

Bak two skool

Okay, a couple of weeks of lockdown wasn’t that bad, but over a month with no real respite? Waiting for a vaccine that may be over a year in the making? That’s not a lockdown, that’s house arrest.

Time to start relaxing the restrictions. People need to work so they can pay the bills properly. The worst is over. So we have to wear masks and gloves in public places? So what? Let’s get things moving again.

I’m finally taking my own advice and am doing online courses to formalise the skill sets I otherwise use every day. At least enough to fill the unforgiving minute. That and the weather recently has been nice. So the lockdown isn’t currently that onerous, although Mrs S has vouchsafed on occasion that she is getting ‘twitchy’. A statement which immediately had me looking for my helmet and flak jacket. It got to the point where I even had to deploy Klondike Bars (Double sized choc ices for you poor deprived buggers) and extra chocolate. It’s hell in here I tell you. I found the men sir, gawd I wish I hadn’t.

Even though we mostly work from home Mrs S and I are both in sore need of a timeout. I really pity the poor sods who live on their own. Solitary confinement is really, really bad for the mind. Ordinarily sane people tend to go postal. Maybe that’s what pushed the Nova Scotia Shooter over the edge. And he’s just the first. The longer this lockdown, the more domestic disputes will begin to cross that bloody line. The damage may already be done with the fuse fizzing toward the dynamite.

For me, this weeks learning / displacement activity is taken up with numbers. Specifically accounting techniques, most of which I use every day in my day jobs. Nothing that complicated, but enough to get me a study credit or two with the Open University and a recognised certificate at the end. Given time, all these things mount up. At some stage or other I must have a tot up. I believe 300 study credits will get you a degree but I’m not absolutely sure.

I’ve got transcripts with a number of online Universities, Duke, Simon Fraser, The OU and I think there is one course from Vancouver Island or UBC which I never finished, even though I’ve never had the time and money to go to a University and get a formal, full time degree. This is not to say I haven’t physically been to a University. In various work roles over the years I have been to several UK University campuses. Even attended lectures. I’ve also sat down in the canteen of several campuses for a number of lunch times and do you know what? Not one of the snotty buggers ever bothered to talk to me. Or perhaps they didn’t want to soil their precious ickle minds by talking to one of the real workers, not the fantasy version as believed in by certain student activists and their professors. Judging from the current output from the Non-STEM courses, I think I may have dodged a bit of a bullet there. Although to be fair I do tend to try and generate a “Don’t bother me I’m busy” stasis field while I’m reading, which I so often do.

The main thing that puts me off doing a full time degree course is all the PC bullshit you have to go through to study at University nowadays. Could anyone tell me what use is a compulsory course in ‘diversity’ or pronouns for recently invented genders within the more practical disciplines of technical writing, accounting, computing, biology, medicine or engineering? Apart from worse than useless.

Universities do theory and do it well, but the problems start when bad theories collide with real life. At the beginning of my working life, when I was an apprentice engineer (My my, I have had a chequered past haven’t I?), we knew whenever we got a graduate engineer in that they were being groomed for management and had to train alongside us yokels, whose career path would be more about the actual design of things and day to day problem solving. Theirs was to be planning the projects and handling the politics. Now we seem to have progressed into some twisted Huxleyesque future where there are far too many University trained Alphas with impractical ideas.

Academia may be the place where all the wild ideas go to play, but the rest of us mere mortals could do without the crazy shit (Man made climate change, gender studies, socialism) spilling out into the real world.

We mere mortals have all got things to do and Academia and the politicians who listen to them are getting in the way.

Hi ho. Back to my study.

Never mind the NHS

Looking across the pond, I’m disturbed to see a media and government driven fetishisation of our respective health services. By that I mean;

fetishise (UK)

or American fetishize (ˈfɛtɪʃˌaɪz )
VERB
(transitive)
to be excessively or irrationally devoted to (an object, activity, etc)

Derived forms;
fetishization (ˌfetishiˈzation) or fetishisation (ˌfetishiˈsation) NOUN

Is it me or are the UK NHS, and the One size fits all Canadian Healthcare systems being subjected to an unhealthy (Anyone else get the irony?) and obsessive Greek chorus when there are other, far superior healthcare systems in the world? Frankly the whole business makes me worried. It’s obsessive and completely over the top.

The last time I felt this way about what should be quite a mundane support system, like getting your drains cleared or other bits fixed, was that frankly weird squirm-inducing dance routine dreamed up by Danny Boyle for the last UK Olympics. See video below.

Now I’ve worked for the UK NHS, and also over here as a volunteer and part time employee of the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Hospitals and health clinics to me are necessary places, but no more worthy of the hysteria currently being demonstrated than say, calling out an emergency plumber. My taxes pay for the service they provide and the best they are going to get out of me is a sincere thank you when a job is well done. Anything more strikes me as cringe-inducing and more than slightly creepy.

My approval of what medical staff do on a day to day service is no more than what is due to any other type of service provider. Their competence will engender my respect because that is earned. Respect is due for the years of training it takes to get qualified, but this placing an institution on a national pedestal is somewhat disturbing. Yes the front line individuals are doing a tough job, but it’s what they signed up for as medical professionals on their very first day of training.

There’s something strange going on. We’re being subjected to what feels like a massive snow job. I for one am very unhappy with this state of affairs. Never mind our health services, there’s something unpleasant under the surface and I’m not sure what it is, but I sure as hell don’t like it.

The dreadful algebra…

Easter weekend saw us sorting the affairs of Elderly Friend, who has moved into dependent rather than independent care. There’s tax papers to forward, furniture to dispose of. So many things she no longer needs. The care home have been very helpful while we make sure all the bills are paid, even while they’re in lockdown. Elderly Friend has a new room with a view rather than the poky place she’d been consigned to after her last bad fall. She’s happy, and has mostly forgotten about her old apartment. Give her another month or three and she’ll probably have forgotten all about us the way things are going.

Such are the pains of dealing with dementia. It’s like watching a slowly sinking ship. To extend that simile into a conceit, there’s not much else you can do apart from get the survivors off, log the wrecks location and inform Lloyds of London. Which is what we’ve been doing. Handling the details of Elderly Friend’s downsizing (Err, how much was that brand new and now it can only be thrown away?). Ensuring the equations of comfort divided by finance are kept in balance by applying the right kind of fuzzy logic.

Watching someone close to us go under like this is bloody hard on the soul, but absolutely essential work. We could just walk away of course, but that would mean someone else would take up the reins and maybe drive Elderly Friends wagon prematurely off a cliff without meaning to. So this is our burden to bear. As I’ve often said before, we’re paying off a debt of gratitude. Not to mention having to face our own dwindling prospects by reinventing ourselves, yet again. That too is a work in progress.

It’s at times like these I’m reminded of something that has been called ‘the dreadful algebra‘, which aptly describes the hard choices you sometimes have to make. For example where a loving pet has to be put down or a close relative has their life support switched off. Or to amputate a limb, perhaps your own, crushed in a rock fall or trapped in machinery. Symbolised by the mathematical function; Life >(Greater than) Death.

Sometimes it’s about letting go. Sometimes of a friendship or child because they have to walk their own path. However;

The dreadful algebra is always about hard choices.
The dreadful algebra always demands a sacrifice.
The dreadful algebra doesn’t care about your feelings.
The dreadful algebra means no more comfortable illusions.
The dreadful algebra is a calculation, and in extremis, if you guess the wrong answer for the wrong reason, or worse, not make a decision, it will kill you, and possibly a great many more around you.

Weak politicians hate it, because they’re going to have to make a considered decision and stick to it, no matter what. Decisions that may cost them votes in the short term. Decisions that may cost lives short term, but will save far more in the long.

Being a grown up sucks. So suck it up young Bill. Quit whining and get on with it.