Andrew Cotters Labs and Winter

Had Enough of Winter Yet?

Dear Mother Nature,
Having received my free sample of winter, I would like to cancel the remainder of my subscription. Thank you.
– Author Unknown –

As I’ve previously mentioned, we’re still in Alberta ‘enjoying’ our first full cold and snow winter in about 8 years. Though we would prefer to be in warm sunny Arizona, many factors convinced us to stay home rather than fly south, then home weeks later. This included Canada’s recent new rule that anyone who is allowed to fly into Canada will have to present proof of a negative Covid test taken in the previous 72 hours; then they will be required to stay in a ‘detention’ hotel for up to three days, at their own expense, until such time as another Covid test says they are still negative. Then they will be allowed to go home for the remainder of a 2 week quarantine where security officers may pop by to make sure they are where they are supposed to be. Last, but not least, another Covid test must be done on day 10 of home incarceration.

Our Prime Minister is showing how super tough he is when it comes to Covid! I guess that is to make up for the fact that his government failed to procure very much vaccine and Canada is now 45th in the world in terms of doses per 100 people administered. (The UK is 4th, USA is 5th.)

On the lighter side of winter life, here is #DudeDad and #CharlieBerens to tell you How to train for winter!

How Other Countries are Coping During the Pandemic

Back to the theme of fitness:

My favourite labs, Olive and Mabel are urged to join the gym that Andrew Cotter has built in his garage.

Quotes of the Day

The first thing you should know about me is that I’m not you. A lot more will make sense after that.
-Author Unknown –

The three hardest things to say are:
1. I was wrong
2. I need help
3. Worcestershire Sauce
– Author Unknown –

A Safety Third Philosophy in a Safety First World

Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned from 2020 is that The Car Guy and I are a ‘Safety Third’ couple living in a strange (to us) new world that runs on a Safety First mentality.

…somewhere between my childhood and now, our society has gotten the idea that safety is of utmost importance. That if we kill enough germs and take sufficient safety precautions, our children can live in an illness-free, accident-free, pain-free utopia. Even if such an existence were possible, would it be desirable? Or healthy?
– Lisa E Betz –

That realization explains so much – why increasing numbers of people eagerly elect more restrictive governments; why students are so upset by ideas that counter their safety first world view; why mass media is increasingly just biased opinion journalism supporting this viewpoint and why social media is restricting what people can say and removing users who don’t follow the prescribed view.

The Covid Virus in a Safety First Culture

I have been perplexed by the almost universal reaction of world government in using lock downs. This did not seem to be useful risk management. The potential for collateral damage seemed immense.

The concept that best describes what Governments  have done is to apply a Homogeneous solution to what is a Heterogeneous situation. In other words, people are all being treated the same, though they are not all at the same risk of an adverse outcome.

In my province (Alberta, Canada) the average age of death is 82 years. Sixty-five percent of the deaths were in people over the age of 80; 84 percent were over the age of 70 with 86 percent having 2 or more comorbidities (health conditions.) Many of these people live in care homes and are best described as the elderly frail.

We know that the task of ensuring that the workers and guests in these facilities are not bringing the virus into the facility (are educated and equipped properly) is either not being done adequately, or cannot be achieved (possibly partly because the elderly frail were going to die soon anyway, with or without the virus to hasten their demise.)

Instead of addressing this issue, which would appear to be a major contributor to Covid deaths in our province, our government responded by locking us all down. Why? I think it is because it is easier to say (and sell) ‘Government is here to protect you’. With the application of  Fear, Safety is my personal responsibility, not yours’  becomes ‘We are All in this Together’. Peer pressure took over from there…

That phrase, “we are all in this together” made me think “No, actually, we are all in the same storm but our boats are sinking at different rates.” The phrase ‘be kind’ seemed to be a trite way of overlooking the actions of governments who locked people down, chose who was essential and with the sweep of a pen decided who was now ‘non-essential’ and demoted them to being nobody and nothing. And while I appreciate the work of those front line health care workers (we have a nurse in the family) – caring for the sick is, and always has been, their job. The difference between now and then is we’ve just become more aware of what their work entails.

A Moral Paradigm

It is astonishing to think, ten months into the coronavirus crisis, that our officials continue to apply the poison that is killing the patient, continue to run in the wrong direction and continue to miss the need to apply basic risk management tools…

Safety and certainty, tied to virtues like sustainability and the sanctity of life, create a moral paradigm that has become an essential element in leadership. For a policymaker seeking to be seen adopting a virtuous posture, precaution provides the perception of a caring concern and commitment to human values.

The precautionary principle is very attractive to regulators. All that a government authority needs to do is demand 100% safety and certainty (two emotional concepts) and then measure the response. Given that very little in reality is completely safe with certainty, most regulators pull precaution out of a hat to avoid having to make decisions in difficult, controversial situations.
– David Zaruk, The Risk Monger is an EU risk and science communications specialist. One of his discussions about Risk management is at: The Perversion of Precaution

Lack of Strong Evidence to Lock Downs

A study from Stanford University: Assessing mandatory stay- at- home and business closure effects on the spread of COVID- 19 concluded that:

In summary, we fail to find strong evidence supporting a role for more restrictive NPIs in the control of COVID in early 2020. We do not question the role of all public health interventions, or of coordinated communications about the epidemic, but we fail to find an additional benefit of stay- at- home orders and business closures. The data cannot fully exclude the possibility of some benefits. However, even if they exist, these benefits may not match the numerous harms
of these aggressive measures. More targeted public health interventions that more effectively reduce transmissions may be important for future epidemic control without the harms of highly restrictive measures.

Further Reading/Listening:

Mike Rowe (the ‘face’ of the TV show ‘Dirty Jobs’) runs the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. He is, I think, one of the most common sense voices in the Americas today.

This is Mike Rowes editorial: I’m Not Ignoring Covid

Here is an interview Dave Rubin did with Mike Rowe Unintended Consequences of Putting Safety First

Here is an entertaining video describing why Mike decided that ‘Safety First’ wasn’t the safest way of looking at things.

Valentine’s Day

The Car Guy and I have big plans for Valentine’s Day… 2022. Valentine’s Day 2021, however, will be much like every other day during lockdown! Not that I’m complaining – I can’t think of anyone else in the whole world that I would rather spend my morning, afternoon, evening and nights with, day after day after day, than The Car Guy!

A bit more than half a century ago I was still searching for the right person – ah, those heartbreak years.  This video captures that pain… but only if you listen to it. Watch it, and you’ll get a good laugh.

After you’ve watched the video – do tell – did you give/or get a class ring? Gals, did you ‘size’ it with tape or string so it would fit, or did you wear in on a chain?

Relationships are a lot like algebra. Have you ever looked at your X and wondered Y?
– Author Unknown –

I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day. When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.
– Author Unknown –

Love is in the air? Wrong. Nitrogen, Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide are in the air.
– Author Unknown –

If Donald Trump gave Valentine’s cards to his loved ones, the message might read: “I want you on my side of the wall.”
– Author Unknown –

Cancellation of Keystone XL – Bad for Climate, Environment and Canada

#NotMyPresident – it is a hashtag that Democrat supporters used to express their disapproval of President Trump. The same hashtag is now being used by Trump supporters to express their disapproval of President Biden.

Many Albertans are expressing their disapproval of Biden too – he cancelled the Keystone Pipeline permit on the first day he was in office. The same Albertans probably use the hashtag #NotMyPrimeMinister to express their disgust in how Prime Minister Trudeau has been more supportive of Biden than he is of Alberta.

He couldn’t wait. Joe Biden didn’t let the sun set on his first day as president before coming down like a ton of bricks on Alberta. Almost with his first breath, he smashed Keystone XL. And Justin Trudeau didn’t let 24 hours go by to assure Mr. Biden he understood. Ever so kindly he “acknowledged the new president’s decision to fullfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL.” The promise to kill it on the first day.

Of all the powers and countries and issues and crises in the world at the present moment, is it not utterly unimaginable that at the top of what Joe Biden is pleased to call his mind is a projected pipeline to Alberta? That on his very first day he drew out the sword of an executive order to slay thousands of jobs in his own country and its closest ally?

By the way if anyone buys the idea Biden killed Keystone because of his fears about global warming I can find you a real bargain on beach property in Siberia. I remind readers the U.S. has three million miles of pipeline. The only reason Keystone was slaughtered, on the first day, is to show credentials to the environmental crowd, the woke virtuous, not to mention the U.S.’s own oil and gas lobby.
– Rex Murphy, “Alberta ‘will experience the decision differently'”

Cancelling KXL will not reduce Alberta oil production and will not decrease global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The cancellation of the project is a massive windfall for US refiners and rail interests; a loss to provincial and federal coffers; will increase the GHG intensity of the oil; and will increase the risk to rail communities…

Even in the absence of the proposed Project, crude oil that would have been transported on Keystone XL is still being and will be produced and transported to market by rail. Oil-by-rail is less safe and has higher GHG emissions than a pipeline. These facts are incontrovertible and dealt with in the SEIS reports…

To be specific, the 2014 SEIS calculated that the total GHG emissions attributed to using either rail or a combination of rail/pipeline would range from 28% to 42% greater (in the transportation step), than moving that same volume of oil by KXL.

– Blair King, A Chemist in Langley, Cancellation of Keystone XL

Department of State Record of Decision and National Interest Determination in Regards to the Keystone XL Pipeline, 23 March 2017

Having weighed multiple policy considerations, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs finds that, at this time, the proposed Project’s potential to bolster U.S. energy security by providing additional infrastructure for the dependable supply of crude oil, its role in supporting, directly and indirectly, a significant number of U.S. jobs and provide increased revenues to local communities that will bolster the U.S. economy, its ability to reinforce our bilateral relationship with Canada, and its limited impact on other factors considered by the Department, all contribute to a determination that issuance of a Presidential permit for this proposed Project serves the national interest.
TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Application for Presidential Permit, Keystone XL

Three Unions quickly expressed their extreme disappointment with Biden’s cancellation:

The Laborer’s International Union Of North America: “By blocking this 100-percent union project, and pandering to environmental extremists, a thousand union jobs will immediately vanish and 10,000 additional jobs will be foregone.”

The North American Building Trades Union: “Environmental ideologues have now prevailed, and over a thousand union men and women have been terminated from employment on the project.”

The United Association Of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters: “In revoking this permit, the Biden Administration has chosen to listen to the voices of fringe activists instead of union members and the American consumer on Day 1.”

Cold is a Relative Thing and Making Things Up – Rick Mercer

Winter weather in Alberta is an exercise in relativity. When the temperature  first dips to just below freezing (-1C or 30F), it feels cold – but it feels warm compared to the day when it gets down to -10C (-14F). Inevitably, the really COLD weather will arrive – which it did with a vengeance just a few days ago.

-27C is -16F; -34C is -29F

Anything below -20C is really cold.  -20C, -27C,  -34C. No more relativity – it is all just really, really cold. The forecast says it will warm up by this week-end, but do they really mean that? Watch the video below:

I took some photos when it was a balmy -10C.

Frost Covered Trees
Frost covered trees with a Topaz Studio filter called oil.
Macro photo of frost crystals.
Frost crystals with a Topaz Studio sharp filter.

If you are a regular reader, you will wonder why I’m still in Alberta and not soaking up the sun in Arizona. The answer to that is – some times one door closes but another ten open. On the closed door side, the ‘Rona virus and various levels of government made it much less appealing to travel – (though not impossible). On the open door side – at our Alberta house there is a ‘Never Ending Reno’ list, enough craft and hobby supplies to last a lifetime, family to visit as soon as this lock down is lifted and the always enticing prospect of an early start to gardening season! Yah!

Is it still winter where you are? What is the coldest temperature you saw this year? How accurate are the weather reports where you live?

Robert Brault Quotations

Robert Brault is a free-lance writer and author of five books: Reflections, Short Thoughts for the Long Haul, Round Up the Usual Subjects, The Second Collection and Thoughts on Art and Artists. He has contributed to magazines and newspapers in the USA for over 40 years.

A commuter tie-up consists of you — and people who for some reason won’t use public transit.

A holiday cocktail party is where every year you have the same conversation with the same person about who you both still are.

And I, I took the road less traveled by. I was using a GPS system.

A painting is what you make of it, besides which, ‘Moon, Weeping’ has a better ring to it than ‘Paintbrush, Dripping.’

As a general guideline, the fewer the words, the truer the words — an example being the words, “This is an opportunity you can’t afford to pass up,” where three fewer are usually truer.

As a general guideline, there are always as many political parties as there are ways the public can be misrepresented.”

As a great sage once said to me, “Listen if you’re an apple, don’t try to be an orange. It can lead to a life of fruitlessness.

Blogs seem to have two magnetic poles, one attracting friends, the other repulsing relatives.

I’d like to say, on behalf of all us lifelong doubters, that we’re a bit overwhelmed these days, there being so much information that needs to be doubted.

I have found, when judging people, that it’s best to wait until morning and judge them on the evidence of a good night’s sleep.

It is a shame when people of shared values form an allegiance and then proceed to sacrifice their values to the allegiance.

It is never too late, which is too bad, because it would get an awful lot of people started.

It is rare that we achieve happiness by increasing our supply of something that has nothing to do with it.

It is said that not all who wander are lost, which has always struck me as not getting the most out of wandering.

I suppose I will die never knowing what pumpkin pie tastes like when you have room for it.

Marriage is nature’s way of ensuring that a woman picks up some mothering experience before she has her first child.

No matter what your complaint, there is a number to call where you will be told that you are the first person ever to complain about it.

One thing social networking has made possible is the application of mob psychology without having to assemble a mob.

One thing you can learn from your dog is when to go lie under the dining room table and await developments.

Overheard on Judgment Day: “You did WHAT in My name?”

Sometimes you have to remove the clutter from your life to realize that you need the clutter.

There’s a chance, of course, that the person who always gives you a disapproving look actually approves of you but doesn’t have a look to go with it.

There is no daily chore so trivial that it cannot be made important by skipping it two days running.

Today’s thought question: “What are the chances that the reason you were born was to leave everything just the way it is?”

What would I appreciate to mark my passing? Perhaps a brief memorial and a small reception afterwards where people remark on how good the squash casserole is.

You just hope that a politician who claims to know what you deserve is better informed on other subjects.

Doors, Ghosts Cats in Boxes

Does the cat in the middle box, top row, remind you of anyone you know?

Do you have a cat that is always looking for trouble?

For more quotes/jokes with a twist at the end, see my post called Ambused by the Best Paraprosdokians

Do you have a duvet on your bed, or do you use blankets? We have duvets here at the Red House. We use two single duvets on our bed, instead of one big one. No more waking up cold because a shared duvet has migrated to the other person’s side of the bed!

A ‘better’ duvet cover is the kind that has a set of stringy things sewn onto the inside of each corner. The easiest way to insert the duvet in this type of cover, then, is to turn the duvet cover inside out and lay it on the bed. Lay the duvet on top of the cover. Tie the duvet corner strings to the duvet. Then turn the cover right side out.

I don’t have duvet covers with those strings. I have a sewing machine, I have strings, yet it is a sewing task I’ve never got around to doing. Instead, I use the ‘almost crawl inside the cover to try to match the corners’. How does the laundry/bed maker domestic engineer in your house do this task?

I just started a new band called ‘Blankets and Duvets’
We’ve already been called the best cover band of all time.
Author Unknown

Perspective – Grass Islands and Paths

The grassy paths from here to there.

‘Out Back’ is a fenced in area where the deer and the moose are NOT allowed to wander. For many years it was mostly grass because it was where our septic field was until the field got flooded with abundant rain. We moved the field to higher ground – which gave us more landscaping freedom. I started by letting the grass grow taller in some areas, creating wide, sweeping grass paths. The grandchildren loved racing along them and playing hide and seek.

A few years ago I started letting more and more grass grow taller, creating a series of grass islands. I started planting perennials, bushes and trees in the islands. This is what it looked like last fall, from the perspective of someone just over 5 ft tall…

Enter The Car Guy, who had bought himself a Drone and was looking for photo projects. At this Drone height, you get a better idea of what my project looks like.

Higher still, and another perspective. You can see the industrial warehouses that are starting to ‘creep’ out our way.

Way, way up – a clear view of nine of the ten grass islands. Over the next few years we can mow less pathways, add more shrubs and trees and let the islands get bigger.

Hopefully everything will have matured by the time the farm behind us is developed into an industrial park!

The aspen and spruce wooded area at the top of the photo is not fenced. It forms a small part of a large wooded habitat that is home to deer, moose, fox, coyotes and many other mammals and birds.

I can hardly wait until spring time – so many outdoor gardening plans – and not a single one of them depends on the stage we are at with this pesky virus!

‘Rona Virus – Pundemic Groaners and Other Funny Thoughts

2020 has answered the question “Hank why do ya drink?”

Anyone else’s car getting three weeks to the gallon now?

At this point I would feel safer if the Coronavirus held a press conference to tell us how it’s going to save us from the government.

Due to my isolation, I finished 3 books yesterday. Believe me—that’s a lot of colouring

Finland as just closed their borders.
No one will be crossing the finish line.

Gwenyth Paltrow said in an interview we should take this time to learn a new language or write a book. I just shook chip crumbs out of my bra and I don’t know what day it is. I’m fairly certain I’m not going to attempt either of those things.

I just Clorox wiped a bottle of Purell and Purelled my hands cuz I touched the Clorox canister. How far down a rabbit hole does this go?

I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, but you’ll have to wait two weeks to see if you got it.

I’m not sure how many cookies it takes to be happy, but so far it’s not twenty seven.

It was a quiet Monday morning in September 2053, when John awoke with a need to go to the bathroom. To John this wasn’t just any ordinary day! This was the day he would open the last package of toilet paper his parents bought in the year 2020.

I see a big baby boom coming our way in 9 months. They will be called the C-19 babies and the #1 baby names will be “Charmin” and “Scott”.

Masks are the NEW bra! They’re uncomfortable, you only wear them in public, and when you don’t wear one, everyone notices.

My wife and I play this fun game during quarantine. It’s called “Why are you doing it that way?” There are no winners.

Now is not the right time to surround yourself with positive people.

Ran out of toilet paper… having to use lettuce leaves. Today was the tip of the iceberg. Trying to romaine calm.

Snow White is down to 6 dwarfs. Sneezy has been placed in quarantine.

The grocery stores in France look like tornadoes hit them.
All that’s left is de brie.

There will be a minor baby boom in 9 months and then, one day in 2033, we shall witness the rise of the quaranteens.

The World Health Organization has announced that dogs cannot contract Covid-19.
Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released.
To be clear, WHO let the dogs out.

To go to the grocery store, they said a mask and gloves were enough… they lied. Everybody else had clothes on.

What do you call panic-buying of sausage and cheese in Germany?
The Wurst Kase scenario.

Why do they call it the novel coronavirus?
It’s a long story…