Tag Archives: dreaded Lurgi

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?

Ask not….

5d6855908ac2ce910fd91a63186d10dafa7708b7fa34298a0f1988c31ac045a8
Updated 15th March. The funniest thing I’ve seen in this whole Covid19 business was found on a Tim Pool comment thread. So I ‘borrowed’ it.

But seriously, what is the deal with toilet roll, bathroom tissue a.k.a the humble bog roll? It is most definitely a female thing because even though I told Mrs S that we have at least a months supply as I tend to buy one jumbo pack every three months, she was still asking me about it during Friday’s afternoon foray into the stores.

She was the one who wanted to venture out on Friday. I’d already done my thing shopping wise, and the stores will be restocked next week. There might be stocking problems because grocery store sales volumes are most definitely up, but when the initial panic is over next week, things will be much easier.

Even if the Sticker clans current Canadian domicile get hit by a nasty bout of gastric flu we won’t run out for over a month, yet the shelves were being stripped of paper goods. As well as canned vegetables and suchlike, which I won’t use because with the possible exception of sweetcorn they are uniformly vile. BTW; Baked beans are not, at least in my culinary milieu, counted as a vegetable.

As far as entertainment goes; the news is all doom and gloom, so I’ve switched off and am following my own advice this weekend. I hear other people are doing the same. For example, I heard several people while we were out and about yesterday say they were turning off the news channels because they were heartily sick of hearing gleeful news anchors claim this mess is all Trumps fault.

Similarly in the UK, during a transatlantic Whatsapp conversation ‘North’ was blaming Bojo for not doing more, to which I responded that I thought the UK government response had been very measured. Locking down the whole country at this juncture is rather like locking up the henhouse after the fox has gotten in. This virulent disease is already within the UK’s, indeed everyone’s borders and all anyone can do is take sensible precautions. Containment will be very much down to the individual.

Which leads me to the reflection that when there’s nothing you can do, perhaps the best you can do is nothing. Read a book. Plan a holiday for when this is all over. Take a walk around the house. Do some neglected chores like clean the garage or check the car. Stay away from the TV. Phone a friend. Which is what we’re doing. Filling the unforgiving minute.

Outside life hasn’t completely ground to a halt. Cars pass by. There’s still shipping in the Juan De Fuca heading out into and back from, the broad Pacific. Buses, albeit with very few onboard, grumble up and downhill. This is a hiatus, nothing more. The rent is paid. There’s money in the bank, spare cash, gas in the tank. We’ll be fine, providing big government doesn’t put it’s foot in it, although I’m told all the local facilities, schools, libraries etc are shutting down for the duration. Maybe if the politicians go into hiding it might not be so bad.

In the midst of the slow-motion horror of a world wide pandemic a happier thought does occur. Following Remainer / rejoiner gloating about Covid19 killing off Brexiteers as they’re all old farts don’cha know, everyone with an active brain cell knows that disease is no respecter of political opinion. Maybe Greta whatserface will catch a dose and spread it all through the UN and those clowns of Extinction Rebellion. Perhaps she already has and the viral timebomb is already ticking amongst their ranks like with the Ayatollahs in Iran. Over here it’s already gotten to Trudeau, so maybe he’ll learn the signal lesson that there are greater threats out there other than the largely imaginary man made climate change and hurt feelings.

One thing we’re not told is what particular demographics are being the hardest hit. Men certainly. But what men? Does ones genetic inheritance give one a greater or lesser immunity to this nasty bug? Geographically speaking the Mediterranean basin and Middle East seem to be taking a pounding. Maybe the 7% death rate in Northern Italy has a cultural component? I can hear the pens of academics scratching even now.

By way of a metaphor, one one of my desks there is a little travel alarm, which has been dumped there for no other reason than that it has a loud and annoying tick. In the silence of my little workplace sounding preternaturally loud. Even ominous. For me it is just counting off the seconds until this whole charade ends.

There’s a lot of political capital being made by certain political factions, but I would say this to them when they breathlessly announce that the Pandemic clock is ticking and they wish the worst effects on their opponents;

Ask not for whom the clock ticks; it ticks for thee.

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.

Quarantine planning

Mrs S and I were having a rattle today about this Covid19, having a look at the stats and scare stories circulating around the current borderline pandemic-in-all-but-name. We were sort of okay as far as provisions are concerned, although I might have had to get a bit creative on the culinary front to use up all the odd stuff in the larder. So I thought maybe a large bag of standby rice and an extra bag of flour. After all, I can bake a passable bread, there’s enough sugar and frozen fruit for cakes if need be, although by the end of two weeks Mrs S and I will probably be ready to bite someone’s head off. Possibly each others. However, one should be prepared. Which is what we went and got this afternoon.

With regard to pandemic shopping, there’s no need to go overboard or fight over the toilet rolls as some have done. Why toilet rolls? How many times do these people use the goddamn toilet in a day? One jumbo pack lasts us the best part of three months. I know women use it far more than men but even with three women in our UK home we rarely used more than a roll every two to three days. ‘North’ tells us that the shops had sold out of tampons in the part of London she lives in. We have had little by way of report from Brisbane where ‘South’ my other stepdaughter, is visiting, although I believe she’s currently staying with Brother and Sister in law. At least she won’t go thirsty. Brother in law, like any good Australian, always keeps plenty of beer in the cooler.

Up here in the not so frozen north, Canadians, especially rural Canadians, tend to do things like quarterly, that’s right, not weekly or monthly, but quarterly main shopping trips. So much so that one local grocery chain has regular ‘caselot’ sales where you can go and buy 12, 24 or even 48 cans in a case of basics like baked beans. I’ve picked up the habit of bulk buying certain commodities when there’s a deal on. Like cheap shower gel. I have accumulated enough Dove for Men to last six months, so have stopped buying it.

For our part we have laid in a little extra of everything, from tea and coffee to oats, rice and flour. Not a massive amount, but enough to keep the wolf from the door for well over two weeks. Let me enlarge; here on the Island we have the ever present threat of the ‘big one’, where a 9.0 plus earthquake, some would say an overdue tremor, threatens to smash the entire west coat of North America. So we’re used to keeping a few extra cans in, just in case.

I also thought it would be a useful exercise to run the numbers at the epicentre of the outbreak to get a more accurate picture of how nasty this disease is. In Hubei province, mainland China, the population is around 60 million people, give or take a few million either way.

Out of that population of 60 million, a total of (Monday 2pm PST) 67,743 cases of Covid19 infection have been confirmed. Out of that a total of 3,008 have died from infections caused by the Covid19 virus and the infection rate is beginning to top out, due in no small part to the Chinese authorities hitting everything with massive deluges of disinfectant. Also out of those 67,000 plus cases, a total of 45,235 are listed as recovered. So according to official figures there are a total of a shade under 20,000 people in Hubei still suffering from this very nasty and virulent lurgi. Which means a total of 3.39% of the infected population of 67,707 have involuntarily been shuffled off this mortal coil.

So that’s a shade under 3,390 deaths per 100,000 head of infected population. That’s high, but when you use that per capita death rate on the whole human population, that 3.9% culls around ‭261,030,000‬ people out of a grand total of around 7.7 billion. Which is slightly over five times the normal death rate of 57,000,000 per year. On the face of things, that’s a whole lot of dead bodies to dispose of. Time to buy shares in funeral directors methinks.

But no. That’s just a flat rate of 4.4% applied to the world population. Whoops, my arithmetical bad. The most important figure is the total infected, 67,743 out of 60,000,000. A total death count of 3,008 doesn’t look quite so scary now. Because 1% of 60,000,000 is 600,000. Right. So even rounding the deaths to 3,000 means that the total rate is one two hundredth of one percent. One death per twenty thousand population. A total projected Covid19 death count of around 385,000 out of a global population of 7.7 Billion.

But hang on a minute, before everyone goes completely overboard, let’s draw back further and look at these numbers with a more sceptical eye. A quick look at the real figures show a much lower death rate in the more developed areas of the world. Native westerners, generally speaking, have far less physical social contact with non family members. We kiss less than other cultures, we are more socially isolated, which means a lower transmission rate per head of population. We are less communal than our ancestors. Apart it seems from the Northern Italians, who are really catching it in the neck at present with the whole country in lockdown. We get told by certain hysterical commentators that millions may die and while the total may well eventually top one million globally in a worst case scenario, I will lay my money on a global death count from this threat in six, rather than seven figures, if that. However, if the global death count does not go over five figures, the tens of thousands, I think we will have gotten off very lightly indeed.

However, I will stand by my previous advice. Wash your hands and no snogging strangers. You really do not know where they’ve been. Avoid enclosed spaces where you can. If you can walk instead of taking a bus or train, do so. Vitamin D too and sunlight where available. Keep your locale as clean as you can because it’s not just you.

One thing we did notice in our local supermarket while we were stocking up was that folk were doing a lot of involuntary social distancing. People were giving each other wider than usual berths as we stepped past each other along the aisles of produce. There was also a socially subdued air to the whole place. But no shortages. A few special offers were sold out, but that’s nothing new.

For ourselves we are self-isolating as much as possible. Reducing the window of opportunity for any virus transmission. Hunkering down seems to be the preferred strategy for the moment. May I recommend my one remaining reader does the same for the next four to six weeks. Just to be on the safe side.

Covid19 might feel like the end of the world, but if we are suitably careful, it won’t be. Not by a long shot.

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.

Things to be aware of

Feeling partially human yesterday. Got out of the house from my self-imposed quarantine to pick up some necessary items for my kitchen. A replacement electric hand mixer for my last one that has just died and a new German bladed bread knife which should last a few years. Another worthwhile purchase was one of those magnetic knife holders, which works brilliantly, keeping all my best blades to hand and nicely sharp, instead of losing their edges from being banged around in a kitchen drawer. As well as reducing the risk of Russian Roulette with your fingers every time you go looking for a sharp edge. Or having to resharpen before every use. I also bought some Barkeepers Friend, which is the only stuff I’ve ever found which is really good for cleaning burned-on clag off stainless steel pots and pans or oven glass.

The other good news is that the pain from whatever infection I had has now gone, subsiding into a mild localised itch, which is easy to resist scratching after an application of good old Germolene. Up until relatively recently we couldn’t buy said ointment over here, and Savlon or any other available ointment simply can’t cut the mustard, so we used to have to get visiting friends and family to pick some up for us whenever they’re in the UK. It’s always the same conversation gambit on Skype when they run out of gossip; “Anything we can get for you while we’re in Blighty?” So until it became available via Amazon we used to ask for large tubes of the pink stuff. Then there’s another essential we can’t get here, an insect bite pain relief product from New Zealand called Stingose. So that comes to us from the Australian contingent of the family. Beats the hell out of anything we can get in Canada. We don’t need sting relief that often but when the local mossies are biting, it’s bloody good kit.

The only blot on the horizon is hearing of Longrider’s loss. He’s a good guy, and shit like that shouldn’t happen to good people but it does. I always feel that mere words can seem very cheap when someone loses their soul mate. Any phrases meant to comfort often end up sounding lame, cliched and insincere. However, I’ve used the following stanza in a couple of funeral speeches, wrote it myself some thirty years ago when I thought my days were seriously numbered. LR, hope this helps.

Well maybe I’m around no more,
But what was life to me,
I could laugh and leave it any time I chose,
Yet when night folds itself around you,
And the dark is all you see,
My heart’s still yours when no one wants to know.

Best regards,

Bill

Unclean

“Unclean! Unclean!” Chortled Mrs S.
“Thank you dear.” I responded tersely. She knows I don’t respond well to false sympathy.

I’ve picked up a rather painful but not completely debilitating type of virus infection which means I currently have a bad case of spots before the ankle. Which has led to me popping painkillers like they were sweeties in order to stay half way sane and functional. For which the occasional bit of light relief is required from the late great comedy team of Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe a.k.a The Goons.

Just in case I’m infectious have exiled myself to the spare bedroom. I’d laugh, only that hurts even more. Bugger. Hi-ho. I console myself with the old stoic country axiom; what cannot be cured must be endured. These things last around two weeks maximum if you take care, so I’ve another eight or nine days to go. Note to self; lay in extra Ibuprofen.

Anyway, if my Doctor calls about my set of tests from last week to tell me, “Bill, you’re sick.”
I can reply, “Tell me something I don’t already know. I caught it when I went to get those routine tests you ordered.” Although this dose of the dreaded Lurgi won’t show up in those test results. Infections in the incubation stage are hard to spot.

So if I’m a bit slower than usual answering or approving comments, don’t worry. They’re on my to do list. Or my to don’t list. Whatever. Catch you on the flip side.

All this and it’s started snowing.

Another day, another booking

The road trip planning proceeds apace. The first two weeks are pretty much mapped out and sorted. We have our ‘America the Beautiful’ National Parks pass, which covers us for most of the big National Parks without us having to hang around in line at a ticket booth. As far as I’m concerned we’ve got all the mechanisms and insurances in place for a jolly nice time. A hundred and twenty eight CAD now will probably save us two or three hundred (and a lot of blood pressure) later. Well, that’s my thinking.

However, this isn’t enough for Mrs S, who has chosen this week to go all obsessive compulsive and anxious at me, then refusing to discuss various route options, getting all bent out of shape when I don’t agree with her right this minute. She’s been like this since last weekend, obsessing over tiny details we covered in last years experimental road trip through Washington and Oregon. To tell you the truth I’m half way inclined to take out extra separate insurances, just in case hers fall over. Something is very wrong and she won’t tell me about it. She’s also been visiting the Doctor, who has put on his black cap and pronounced that her Cholesterol is borderline high and written her a prescription for Statins. Then there’s the rule changes on the UK state pension that I’m not going to rely on. Two months ago I was pronounced eligible for a full whack, now it’s looking doubtful – bloody hell. Notwithstanding that your pension value gets ‘frozen’ if you’re an expat. She’s obsessing over that as well, despite having full eligibility and two other fully paid up schemes.

Statins sentenceNow I’ve read the pharmacopoeia and various studies on Statins and I’m not convinced of their necessity in her specific case. She’s worrying about stroke risk twenty years ahead when I think she should be getting more exercise and eating an apple a day, which will probably do her far more good than all the prescriptions in Christendom. My big issue with Statins is that once you’re on them, you’re taking the bloody things for the rest of your days. Which is a long time, and a lot of money. Given that the link between Cholesterol (naturally produced by the liver) and heart and stroke risk Atherosclerosis has been found to be relatively weak, seems like a massive pharmacological sledgehammer to crack a relatively small health nut. Statins can reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol by five percent, but all that fuss for five percent which diet and exercise can handle just as well? That’s without considering the arms length list of side effects like muscle cramps, muscle pain, higher risk of Diabetes 2, memory loss and liver problems. Me, I’ll take the apple and brisk walks route thank you very much and enjoy active life to die at an active ninety with all my marbles rather than sit in front of a screen, bunched up with anxiety and serial popping pills until my body decides it’s had enough and major bits stop functioning age ninety one. Hey, but what the hell do I know? I’m not a Doctor.

It’s all very frustrating. Oh well, never mind, it’s Deals Day on Booking.com and I’m off to take advantage of the deeper discounts on some very nice hotels. Perhaps what I get out of it today will help get her out of this fugue.

Note to self; blessing count. The kids are fine. My college results are great. So far so good. As the falling man said as he plummeted past the tenth floor. Going down.

Still feeling a little carp

Well wasn’t that fun young Bill? Well, actually a clear and resounding ‘No’. Not a fun bout of the dreaded Lurgi at all. My chest is still a little sore, with leftover muscle aches from all the coughing and spluttering which has seen me consigned to the spare bedroom for over a week. “One of us has got to get some sleep dear.” Said my good lady wife, pointedly shutting the door on my palsied frame.

The green chunks have faded to clear, my snottiness quotient is now at more or less normal levels, and I am a functioning human being again. Feeling thankful that bouts of this kind are few and far between. Still feeling a little carp, but that’s to be expected.

Feeling a little Carp Normal sarcasm levels will be restored as soon as I’ve got a handle on what they should be anyway.

In the meantime, doubt is being cast (yet again) on those ‘Government Health Guidelines’ this time on salt. When you actually read the article and see the various assumptions the original researchers made, the light should dawn. The prodnoses have it wrong yet again. Or should we say ‘as usual’?