Good Night, Sleep Tight…

This time last year I was counting the number of itchy bites I got each day, mostly on my legs. I was convinced I was the victim of grass mites, mosquitoes and/or ants. Then one morning  I found three bites under one arm and a cluster of ten bites on my chest. Uh oh…

Bedbugs? Did we bring bedbugs home with us when we drove from Arizona to Alberta at the end of April? Yikes!

A number of years ago a friend’s home got bedbugs and at that time the treatment was to heat the whole house to an even temperature of over 120 F for at least an hour. It was an expensive procedure.

(By now I had worked myself into a lather, as they say). I called the local bug assassin company. They sent one of their  exterminators out that afternoon. He looked carefully at everything in our bedroom. He could not find any sign of bedbugs. He explained that didn’t mean there were no bedbugs – just not enough to constitute an infestation.

If I wanted, he could spray selected surfaces in our bedroom with a product that his company was having a lot of success with. He explained how he would use it and how safe it was for humans once it had dried. We could use the room again in four hours. Oh, and the cost was a bit less than $200.

I said “Make it So!” He instructed me to strip the bed and wash the bedding in hot water. That would kill any bugs residing in our quilts, pillows etc. He told me not to bother washing anything else. Any bugs that weren’t killed in the first few hours would track us down at night and they would be killed too because the spray would keep working for many months.

The spray was a complete success – that was the end of the bites.

Good night, sleep tight
Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
But if they do, then take your shoe and
Hit them till they’re black and blue.
– Childhood Rhyme –

More About Bedbugs

Bedbugs were all but eradicated in the developed world by the 1950’s because of pest control products like DDT and chlordane – and the widespread use of vacuums and washing machines. Today, however, bedbugs are on the rise again because of increased travel and fewer chemical control products.

Adult Bed bugs are the size and color of a flat apple seed. They hide during the day in mattress crevices, box springs, baseboards, behind electrical switch plates, in picture frames, and even behind wallpaper. At night, the carbon dioxide we exhale lures them out of their hiding spots. Once a bed bug finds a host, it will usually feed for 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes the feeding shows up as a pattern of three bites in a cluster or row. The host usually isn’t wakened by the feasting because bed bug saliva is an anaesthetic.

If you think you have bedbugs, call a professional. In my humble opinion, this isn’t a do it yourself job.

Bruce Did It

Our resident moose: Bruce

I’ve been re-reading some of my favourite books. For the past month I’ve been immersed in the wit and wisdom of Robert Fulghum.

In one of his stories he describes how his family settled on a way to discuss the normal daily shortcomings and idiosyncrasies of family members  – in a playful, respectful way.

In my Seattle household there are seven of us: five core family, a housekeeper, and a large stuffed moose …

One morning when I was raging around the kitchen over who drank the last of the milk again and didn’t go to the store for more again, in walked Myrna with the moose. “John (the moose) did it, ” she said, ‘and he’s so very sorry.’ The moose did look guilty. We laughed. John took his chastisement gracefully. Milk crisis forgotten.
– Robert Fulghum in the essay ‘My Fault’

Well, we just happen to have a resident stuffed  moose too (we named him ‘Bruce’). With only two humans in our household, shall we say we are experiencing a certain degree of ‘testiness’ caused by 13 months of a lot of two-some-ness. The idea that all of our fumblings, mumblings, faults and foibles were actually the work of Bruce the Moose  seemed like a brilliant idea.

Everybody knows they could do better, but nobody feels bad getting reminded in a secondary loony way.
– Robert Fulghum –

It has worked very well. ‘Bruce’ is silently stoic, but you can sense he is  building a database of good things to remember, such as: buy crunchy peanut butter – not smooth –  always, not almost always; if you add a lot of beans to the family diet don’t comment on the ‘noisy response’ a few hours later; don’t stack three slippery, loosely covered containers on the top shelf of the fridge.

Have you and your family developed some new coping mechanisms in the past year?

Algorithms and Victor Hood – What’s That All About?

The newly published author, Victor A. Hood, is better known to followers of his blog as Al Hood. His work can be found at:  The Cvillean – The adventures of little read writing Hood.

Al recently published an autobiography, “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” I wanted to purchase it. I knew it was being sold by Amazon,  but wondered if it would show up in a ‘Google’ search. I started with the author’s name and the name of the book. The search engine came back with  some books, including ones about Robin Hood, some obits, a type of range hood… but not what I was looking for.

Next I went to Amazon.com and looked in the book section for “So, That’s What It’s All About, Alfie!” Amazon told me I had used too many words, so they showed me 2000 results for a search for the words ‘so thats all’. Al’s book was fifth in the results. The first four books were about preaching, teacher leadership and sex education for youth.

I then tried searching in Amazon for Victor A. Hood. While Al’s book did come up on the top of this list, Amazon asked me if I meant to search for Victoria Hood. That was an interesting suggestion because in Al’s book, he noted that his mother had hoped he would be a girl. She had already picked out a name: Victoria.

Searching and Algorithms – What’s that all about?
The results we see when we search for anything is decided by an algorithm. This is a set of instructions with certain conditions that will deliver a pre-defined result. The people who write these algorithms influence what you are going to see. A Google Spokeswoman unintentionally confirmed this by saying:

We do today what we have done all along, provide relevant results from the most reliable sources available.
– Google Spokeswoman in response to a WSJ article in 2019 –

“The most reliable sources available”  – someone is deciding for you what the reliable sources will be.

Now the Government Wants to Decide What you will See
The Canadian Government has introduced Bill C-10, the internet streaming tax. The primary goal of this bill, as stated by Openmedia.org, is:
… expanding Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet… In addition to the taxes… C-10 would grant the CRTC the right to set quotas for how much of a streaming platform’s content must be CanCon (Canadian Content), and to require… apps, websites and search results to make CanCon appear more frequently and prominently within the service.

The Canadian Government deciding what you should see. What could possible be wrong with that?!?

For more about Algorithms, click these links to my posts:
Math and Number Quotations
Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

‘Rona #32 – Efficacy and Straws

Straw efficacy: Tim Horton’s has retired their red plastic straws. In my ranking system, these straws had a 95% efficacy at removing the contents of a Tim Horton’s Iced Capp. The new white cardboard straw has only a 90% efficacy because it is wider than the ‘valley’ that holds the “good to the last drop” stuff at the bottom of the cup. The red straw has a 100% efficacy rate for durability. The white paper straw has a 75% efficacy rate because it starts to get squishy about 3/4 of the way through the drink.

The word ‘efficacy’ is very old. It dates back to the 1200’s! It didn’t enter my consciousness until this year, when the term was used in relation to COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccine Efficacy
A vaccine with an efficacy rate of, say 85%, means it demonstrated in trials that it could reduce moderate to severe disease by 85%. To do that, the vaccines initiated an immune response that  reduced the number of viruses in the lower respiratory tract. To date, the vaccines are not believed to be sterilizing vaccines that completely stop the virus in the upper respiratory tract too.

In time, the vaccine may prove to be a sterilizing vaccine in some or most of the population. Until then, some governments, such as the one in my province, explain the vaccine in terms of effectiveness in preventing severe disease, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19′.

Here is an excellent explanation of the Covid Vaccine: University of Colorado.

What about Mask Efficacy?

I somehow doubt there will be a mask efficacy rating for the products used by the general public during Covid. There are simply too many variables – material, fit, care in use; indoors vs outdoors; social distancing and other factors limiting people’s activities;  age, immunity, viral load and length of exposure of participants… Analyzing masking is going to be either a statisticians dream or nightmare.

In preparation for the (hopefully) soon removal of mask mandates, last week I performed a small test on public perception of an unmasked person (me). I had to drop a sample off at a medical lab. I walked two car lengths across a parking lot, stood in an outside lineup of one (me) for about two minutes then handed the sample (while still outside) to the masked attendant who, by protocol, stepped outside to receive it.

While I was being a line of one, there was, for a few seconds, a lineup of two – another ‘client’ arrived. Unlike me, she was masked. When the attendant moved to the door to summons me, the masked lady behind me swiftly moved forward to try to hand her item to the attendant. As she came up beside me, she suddenly drew back. I don’t know whether it was because she saw I was unmasked or whether she realized that I was handing a sample to the attendant too.

Either way, I didn’t learn anything about public perception because the attendant and the client were masked – I couldn’t read anything in their faces.

Efficacy of the Virus

Efficacy isn’t actually the term used to describe Covid mortality – it is called  Case fatality. In both Canada and the USA it is 1.8%. There are, however, an unknown number of people who have had Covid, but were not diagnosed with it, which drops the case fatality rate by some unknown amount. The fatality rate in terms of the entire population are .07% for Canada and .18% for the United States.

I’m hoping we aren’t invaded by a new and more deadly variant so that our province  can move towards full removal of restrictions by the end of June… inshallah…

Line Rider Race (Video)

DoodleChaos artist, Mark Robbins, draws with Line Rider, an online application that allows you to make videos by drawing lines on which, Bosh, a little person on a sleigh, slides along the path you draw. In this video, he synchronized the William Tell Overture (by Rossini) to 8 Line Riders racing down the track to victory.

If you want to experience just how difficult and time consuming it was to make this video, go to the Line Rider site (click play to start) and try drawing a few lines! See if you can keep the little sledder from crashing!

I tried it:

This is the track I drew (after a lot of tries…)
And this is what happened to the Line Rider as he attempted that last climb…

Crash…

The William Tell Overture was composed by the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. The opera premiered in 1829.

The music has been used many times in popular media. It as the theme song for ‘The Lone Ranger’; Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘The Band Concert’; a Flintstones episode “The Hot Piano”; advertising for ‘Reebok’ and ‘Honda Civic’ and the movie ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

Bulwer-Lytton Quotations #2

The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2011-2016.

As Farmer Brown’s train pulled out of the station at 10:00am traveling east at 50 mph, he had no idea that at that very same moment Farmer Green was 100 miles away on a west-bound train heading straight for him at 60mph and that because of a tragic track-switching mistake he was going to die in a fiery head-on train crash at exactly … uhm … well … err … sometime later that day.
— Shanon Conner, San Angelo,TX –

As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.
— Mike Pedersen, North Berwick, ME –

As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course.
— Ron D Smith, Louisville,KY –

Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet)and wondered, “How long have these cold cuts been in my refrigerator?”
— Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE –

Morgan “Bamboo” Barnes, Star Pilot of the Galaxia (flagship of the Solar Brigade), accepted an hors d’oeuvre from the triangular-shaped platter offered to him from the Princess Qwillia –lavender-skinned she was and busty, with two of her four eyes what Barnes called “bedroom eyes” – and marveled at how on her planet, Chlamydia-5, these snacks were called “Hi-Dee-Hoes” but on Earth they were simply called Ritz Crackers with Velveeta.
— Greg Homer, Placerville, CA –

“One cannot easily shake off old habits,” was all that retired Detective Tim O’Hara could say when, after rifling through the dead old man’s pockets (which, as he expected, were all empty), inspecting his throat,and forcing open his cold, stiff hand to get his fingerprints, he was gently but firmly pulled away from the coffin by his brother Harry and piloted out of the parlor under the perplexed stares of uncle Mel’s friends and relatives.
— Jorge Stolfi, Campinas, SP, Brazil –

On March 5, 1836, Lieutenant Colonel William Travis stood before his rag-tag revolutionary army, unsheathed his sword, and drew a line in the sand, followed by a smiley face, some crude stick-figure men, and a few choice words about Mexicans that the State Board of Education has deemed unfit for publication in this 7th Grade Texas History Textbook.
– Gwen Dallas, Austin, TX –

Their love began as a tailor, quickly measuring the nooks and crannies of their personalities, but it soon became the seamstress of subterfuge, each of them aware of the others lingual haberdashery: Mindy trying  to create a perfectly suited garment to display in public and Stan only concerned with the inseam.
— D. M.Dunn, Bloomington, IN –

The life of a mountain man like Jedediah Buckman is a simple one, a campfire to warm the person as well as the soul, a full moon to illuminate the forest as well as the mind, and game to nourish the body as well as the spirit, though one wonders how he could stomach beaver without mint jelly and a bold, young pinot noir.
– John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –

To Juliet’s mind, he was just a small town Romeo, and – bummer – a Capulet to boot, but the men pickings in Verona were slim, so even though her daddy would have a cat, she decided, “What’s the worst that could happen?” — John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –

When Glenn left the house, the sky was a satin Spinnaker Blue with White Feather clouds, the still-moist lawn and street were glossy Sunlit Glade and Bastion Grey, and, contemplating the to-do list jotted on Ivory Cream notepaper as he started the Sundance Yellow hatchback, Glenn knew he would go flat Condition Red berserk if his wife didn’t hurry up and select a color for the dining room.
– David Franks, Greenland, AR –

“Your eyes are like deep blue pools that I would like to drown in,” he had told Kimberly when she had asked him what he was thinking; but what he was actually thinking was that sometimes when he recharges his phone he forgets to put the little plug back in but he wasn’t going to tell her that.
— Dan Leyde,Edmonds, WA –

Last, but certainly not least is this one from one of the bloggers I follow: Al at The Cvillean

It was only after he accidentally shut off the engines and the plane nosed over and dropped like a rock, that the pilot realized the gravity of the situation and thought how this horrible performance was sure to get him grounded forever.
– Al Hood –

Part One of my favourite quotations in this series: Bulwer-Lytton Quotations

Thieves Steal Lumber

Only in Canada, you say…

Royal Canadian Mounted Police News Release:

May 11, 2021; Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan

On May 7, Porcupine Plain RCMP responded to a theft complaint in a rural area. An individual had left some posts piled on a property they planned on fencing, only to find they’d gone missing.

Officers began investigating the post-plundering, but the caper was quickly revealed when the posts were spotted in a nearby waterway.

“The stolen posts were located in a beaver dam,” explains Cst. Conrad Rickards of the Porcupine Plain RCMP Detachment. “A beaver – or beavers – helped themselves to the stash of posts and used them to help build a dam. I tried locating said beavers but they were GOA (gone on arrival).”

“None of the beavers will face charges”, he says. “Who could really blame these little bucktooth bandits, considering the price of wood these days?”

Porcupine Plain RCMP has now closed this extremely Canadian case.”

A beaver dam, containing the fence posts a beaver stole from a nearby property.

When I first saw this story I thought maybe it was a joke or satire. What were the chances that there is a Porcupine Plain RCMP detachment and that beavers ripped off a pile of fence posts!? Then I found the story repeated by some major news outlets – and then I found the Porcupine Plain RCMP report on their website. The only way this story could have been any better is if the report had been filed by the Beaverlodge Alberta Detachment.

Only in Canada – got me thinking about things I’ve said that are very Canadian:

The Car Guy got a dozen Timbits with a large double double while he was in town. (Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop donut holes and a coffee with double cream and sugar.)

The party crowd said a mickey cost about the same as a two-four last summer. (375 ml. -13 oz- bottle of liquor compared to a 24 bottle case of beer.)

I had ten loonies but no toonies in my pocket. (Our one dollar coin is a loonie, the two dollar coin is a toonie. The loonie has a depiction of a loon on it. The toonie has a Polar Bear… you would think we would call it a Bearie or a Polie…)

Daughter has been knitting up a storm – she has five touques now. (Touque or tuque is a very simple, pointed, knitted hat.)

It’s only 5 clicks to town. (A click is a kilometre.)

I’m done like dinner. (Too tired to work anymore.)


What phrases or words are unique to where you live?

For more Canadian Humour: Best Canadian Puns, Jokes and Observations
Canadian Snowbird Stories
Lighter Side of Canadian Governments
The Beery Best of Canada
Canada Thanks you Mr. Beaver

‘Rona #31 – We Got Shot

Vaccines are in short supply here in Canada – so The Car Guy and I decided we would delay getting ours (we are retired seniors who can easily continue to shelter in place). We hoped  that ‘our shot’ would go to younger, but more vulnerable people. (That part worked well – our younger siblings got their shots a few weeks ago.)

We would have kept delaying ‘shot’ time for several more months if the various governments and venues hadn’t  fouled things up a bit. Our Province decided to delay the timing for the second shot by up to four months. Other governments and service providers started to talk about two dose immunization as a requirement to travel or take part in normal life again. We started counting the months until we’d like to visit our home and friends in Arizona and decided we should book our shots.

We ‘got shot’ last Friday. Just in time to be locked down again.

The Province of Ontario is in lockdown too. The Police can’t actually come to your house, of course, but I’m sure there are a few people who wish that officers could do removals…

Hard to forget early 2020 – toilet paper was a major issue. This year, in some places, it is lumber. Prices have gone up by as much as 50%.

Also in 2020 – remember Flatten the Curve?

The goal, you might remember, was to keep the health care system from being overwhelmed. Fourteen months later, we’re doing it all over again. It’s like trying to staple jello to a wall.

There have been a number of Anti-Lockdown Rallies in Alberta. Some people have been pushed to the limit of their endurance. There are concerns that these Rallies will be super-spreader events. The one that caused the most uproar was a Rodeo  that was attended by about 4000 people over the course of 2 days. It has been 10 days since it took place and no cases have been linked to the event so far.

Last June, 15000 people in Edmonton Alberta attended a BLM Rally. That rally, and all the BLM rallies across Canada did not result in an increase of Covid cases either, officials say.

I think many people understand that lockdowns are more damaging to some people than to others. The question being raised in some quarters recently – are lockdowns actually Systemic Racism?

I think we are going to see interesting ‘discussions about best pandemic practices’ once the virus and the world have come to a mutual understanding!

If Bible Characters had iPhones (Video)

Imagined conversations about some of the major stories of the bible – if there had been cell phones:

Here are a few of the funniest bits:

“Aaww, Abraham and Isaac are on a little father son trip! What could go wrong”

“If NOAH Instagrams one more time about his DIY project…I’m done.”

“Jesus is coming – just order two fish and five loaves of bread.”

“Jonah went deep sea fishing a few day’s ago, have you heard from him?”

The actors in this video are Trey Kennedy (an American comedian and musician known for his YouTube and TikTok videos) and John Crist (a fast-rising stand-up comedian who also does videos.)

‘Rona #30 – Spike and the Variants

You can find many photos of ‘Spike and the Variants’ on the internet, but the pictures are kind of fuzzy and they make one variant look just like another. Not to worry. With a little imagination and a Pigma Micron No 03 pen, I think I captured their likeness very well.

My home province, Alberta, is currently a hot spot for the wild performances of the spike protein virus, SARS-CoV-2.

‘Spike’, having been booed off Alberta stages twice now, called for some fresh new faces to liven up the act. A group of  ‘Variants’ answered the call.

Experts say there are too many variants to count and most of them are functionally no different than ‘Spike’ the original. However, The WHO has clarified that there are seven variants “of interest” and three variants “with real potential”.

Variant B.1.1.7 from the U.K. has been the most active in Alberta; P.1 from Brazil has tried to make it onto the mainstage, but without much luck. Variants B.1351 from South Africa and B.1.617 from India have so far not been allowed to perform more than a handful of times.

On a more serious note, Government has reacted to ‘Spike and the Variants’ by locking us down for a third time (though in reality, we’ve been in some degree of lock down for over a year now.) Fortunately, the weather has improved considerably – we are ‘allowed’ to meet up with one other family, outdoors, social distanced, as long as there are no more than 5 of us…

All my other ‘Rona stories are here: health-virus.