‘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…

‘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!

‘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.

‘Rona #29 – 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…

This and That – 2021, Trees and a Virus

This


I put all the Christmas decorations away last week – everything but the Christmas tree. The tree takes up quite a bit of space in the living room – so I scooted it out to an adjoining area. Now it is out of the way, but still clearly visible when I sit in my favourite chair!

I think it will stay there for quite a while. The lights make me happier and I need all the happy I can get to dispel the gloom of Alberta winter nights and mandated Covid social limitations.

We’ve turned the corner on sunlight, of course. The shortest day was December 21, and we are gaining almost a minute a day of daylight right now. We’ve also had a few weeks of mild weather. That is to say, temperatures have been such that I’ve traded heavy winter mitts for light ones when I go for a walk.

We’ve spotted the moose, a few times, though not in our yard. They have been favouring the lands west of us. We’ve been seeing more non-local vehicles drive up and down our road lately. I suspect they are hoping they will see the moose too.

That

As you can see, we’re still in Alberta. We haven’t made the annual snowbird trek to Arizona yet. Travel outside of Canada is not advised and we aren’t allowed to enter the USA by car.  In one of those strangely odd ‘rule loopholes’, we are allowed to fly there, though. That makes Arizona happy because they need the tourist dollars.

The Car Guy is ready to pack his bags and board a plane. I’m not so enthusiastic. For whatever reason, I’m just not keen to get into a metal tube full of people wearing masks to fly to a State where a different group of politicians is making rules that also ignore the concept of good ‘risk management.’

The Other

2021 – A new year, a new crop of memes and jokes – and names to remember. Covid-19 is now more commonly called SARS-CoV-2. You might remember that it became politically incorrect to refer to it as Wuhan flu or China virus, but you might be forgiven if you call the new variants UK variant and South Africa variant. Remembering their real names,  20B/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01 and 20C/501Y.V2 is just a bit much.

There doesn’t seem to be a run on toilet paper so far.
We got a message from our nephew a while back. He wanted to thank the person who responded to his desperate search for yeast – and he thought it was funny that the yeast came wrapped like a nickel bag of dope.

 

This was funny when I saw it a few months ago. I’m not aware of anyone in our family who would bring weed to a family gathering (thought it is legal) – but family gatherings were illegal this Christmas.

At Home Dining – We Up our Game

The Eating Bar in the Kitchen: every day dishes; cutlery we got as a wedding present (51 years ago); mismatched drinking glasses. In the background on the right – the box with the new kitchen taps act as a reminder that The Car Guy has to either install them or call the plumber…

For most of the last 270 days, our evening meal has been consumed, in our home, at the kitchen island Eating Bar,  by a Party of Two.

What with Lockdowns; Mandates of how big our social bubble can be; living in a rural setting (a bad mosquito season this summer); general caution by others for (and by) people in our age group; the threat of  Fines for non-compliance; and Snitch call lines – well lets just say our social life has been very ‘quiet’.

Christmas Day Dinner was no different and when I asked The Car Guy if he wanted to ‘up our game’ for dinner for two, maybe use the ‘good dishes’ and newer cutlery, he gave me that look that said “We’re having left over ham from Christmas Eve’s Dinner…”

So I imagined left-over ham on the good dishes on place mats and newer cutlery and Canadian Festive napkins – and said “Yeah, it doesn’t make much difference does it…”

The next holiday dinner is today – Boxing Day. At this point in time,  we have eaten left-over ham at two dinners, two breakfasts and two lunches (because a ham of any size is the definition of eternity). Boxing Day we are serving what we affectionately call New Food.

To celebrate, we invited a guest and I set the table in the Dining Room. (How many of you have Dining Rooms? How many times a year do you use that room? We travel through ours many times every day because it is the only way to get to the kitchen from the rest of the house.)

Boxing Day Table set; guest is already here.

The good plates, the good cutlery, the good crystal glasses, a centre piece and Bruce the Moose as our guest. We are all set to ‘Up’ our Dining Game!

(To be honest, this post was inspired by some truly awesome photos of Christmas Dinner posted by friends and family. By virtue of extremely good taste in decorating and/or more people in their family bubble, they had what looked to be a festive and fun Christmas Day.

The reality for many seniors (like us in Alberta and maybe elsewhere) Christmas was somewhat more subdued. Maybe this is because as Covid time passes, it is getting harder and harder to emotionally ‘kick it up a notch’. We are surrounded by a society where government is ruling by keeping people in a blind, perpetual fear.

We are asked to put ‘safety first’ but ignore the inner voice that asks, “what about the collateral damage?” So, we do things as safe as we can, we keep the people near us as safe as we can, but it is a task beyond our ability to make sure everyone else and everything we do is absolutely safe.

Many of us seniors have lived through two pandemics already. Some served in a war or two. We learned to drive before seat belts and air bags. We rode our bikes without helmets. We got chicken pox, measles and mumps. Between 95 to 99.9% of us seniors will chalk up another win in the pandemic column!

So, this year is different, and we can live with that in good humour and good grace. But next year I hope we’ll see a full complement of people at our ‘turkey or ham’ table!

 

 

 

‘Rona #28 – Satan Meets 2020 (Videos)

Ryan Reynold’s Maximum Effort (a boutique production house) partnered with the dating site Match.com for ads that depict ‘2020’ as a perfect match for Satan. The two ads are really well done and quite funny.

The ads begin with Satan sitting on his throne in Hell 11 months ago. Unperturbed by the sounds of torture surrounding him, his interest is piqued when a ping on his phone notifies him of a new match.

On a more serious note, this quote seems to capture Covid 2020:

Fear is the dark room where the Devil develops his negatives.
– Gary Busey –

This one captures a significant segment of mass and social media:

I don’t really believe in the Devil, but if the Devil is the Father of Lies, then he certainly invented the Internet.
– Ken MacLeod –

This and That – Robot, Monks, Oops (Video)

This

You might be able to relate to this fun video if you have ever had to prove you are not an internet Robot or if you have had to verify your account so that you can change your password.

That

It starts off so plausible and serious…

Did you know that in Las Vegas, NV, there are more Catholic Churches than casinos. Not all that surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday Mass will put casino chips in the collection baskets.

Since the diocese receives chips from dozens of casinos, it has become problematic and time consuming for individual parishes to separate, count and cash in the hundreds of chips they receive each week.

The Bishop turned to and enlisted the assistance from a Franciscan Monastery, just outside of Las Vegas. Some of the Franciscans sort and count the chips, while others are tasked with delivering the chips to their respective casinos and returning the cash to the parishes.

The latter are affectionately referred to as chip-monks.
– With Thanks to Ray V. at Mitigating Chaos

The Other

Good idea, really poor execution: The Alberta ‘Rona Virus website has a COVID-19 personal risk severity assessment tool. I tested it out.

Age group: 60-69. Biological sex: Female.
Conditions (from list of 8 health risks): none.
Resulting risk level: LOW

That was what I would expect… except I recently took up residence in the 8th decade. So I took the test again.
Age group: 70-79. Biological sex: Female.
Conditions (from list of 8 health risks): none.
Resulting risk level: HIGH

To sum it up: If you took this test one day before your 70th birthday, you would be at Low risk. One day after your 70th birthday and you would be at High risk. Seems like they have to have a greater number of age brackets AND they have to give some weight to the health risks.  (In Alberta, the average age of death from Covid-19 is 82. The majority of those who died had 2 or more health risks.)

Some more Close, but not quite right

When you want to fly direct to Boston but end up wherever your luggage got sent…

 

Maybe a new way to social distance???

 

Not the most appropriate photo for this frame…

 

 

This and That – Perspectives

This: Digital Perspectives

I’m reading “Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport. I’m at the part where you do a one month Digital Declutter. I am supposed to step away from any technologies (apps, sites and tools on my computer or mobile phone) that I can take a break from without creating harm to my personal or professional life. Fortunately, I am 50% there even if I do nothing because I don’t have a mobile phone. I don’t have a professional life either… or much of a social life…

As for Apps, I can easily slim down Facebook. All I have to do is ‘snooze’ a few people for 30 days. I can clean-up my Twitter feed too – unfollow, block. News Sites? Shouldn’t be too hard to stop reading the news for a month… I’m feeling calmer already…

That: Funny Perspectives

My Twitter feed can be quite fun some days:

 

And the Other: ‘Rona Virus Perspective

I’ve read that a lot of people put on weight during the lockdown…

 

‘Rona #27 – Chimps and the Evening News – Hans Rosling TEDTalk (Video)

Hans Rosling discusses how Chimps and People differ in answering multiple choice questions. If a group of chimpanzees were given a challenge that had three possible responses, the likelihood is that each one of the responses would be chosen by 33% of the chimps.
That’s not the case with humans. Why? Hans explains how bias affects the answers. Humans watch the evening news. Chimps don’t.

Here are a few ‘Rona Virus questions to test whether you know more than the Chimps do!

First and foremeost: did Corona Beer Sales go up, down, or stay the same?
Answer: Up, then down. “Most consumers understand Corona the brand has nothing to do with corona the virus. Our consumers are very comfortable with the brand and the results speak for themselves.” Unfortunately production was stopped when the Mexican Government closed nonessential services.
– Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands –


Does a Thermal Scanner detect Covid or Not?
Answer: This is a kind of a trick question… yes, the scanner detects a fever, which might mean you have Covid. But no, there are many other causes of fever.
– WHO –

 

When you are exercising, should you wear a mask or not?
Answer: We’ve heard much about who, why, when and how we should wear masks – but should we wear a mask when we are exercising?

“People should NOT wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably… instead – maintain physical distance of at least one meter from others.”
– World Health Organization (WHO) –

“People who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to wear a mask, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.”
– CDC –

Note: in some parts of the world, like Canada and the United States, the recommended distance is twice the WHO recommendations. Some countries say you should wear a mask during exercise…