A Frog in my Throat

“A Frog in my Throat”

I have been invaded by a virus. I have a runny nose, a scratchy ‘frog’ in my throat, and a dry cough. I don’t know if I encountered the virus while still in Alberta, or if it caught up with me during the three day drive from Alberta to Arizona. I don’t know if it is a common cold or if it is one of the Covid variants like Omicron.

I do know that medical advice in both places says stay isolated at home for 5 days after the start of symptoms and don’t clog up the medical system unless the symptoms are well beyond what I’m experiencing. In Alberta, PCR tests are not available unless you are deemed to be severely sick. I’m assuming the situation is similar here in Arizona too.

What isn’t the same in the states we traveled through to get here, is mandates. In Canada, we have been ‘mandated’ up to our eyeballs. Today, if The Car Guy or I wanted to get back into Canada, our vaccine status alone would not be good enough; nor would a promise that we would drive immediately to our home and quarantine for 2 weeks. No, we would also have to have proof of a negative molecular test OR we will be fined $5000 per person. (When we crossed into the USA from Canada we didn’t have to provide any proof of even having been vaccinated. The restaurants and motels we used did not have mask mandates, though some had mask recommendations that few people were following.)

To put this difference between Canada and the United States into perspective (recognizing there are state/provincial/municipal differences), I’d like to start with  a section of a post from Mike Rowe (Mike Rowe Works Foundation):

How much more mandating are we willing to endure to avoid a virus we’re all going to get?

…I’m worried that we’ve become irrationally averse to risk. I’m worried that mask mandates will lead to vaccine mandates, and vaccine mandates will lead to vaccine passports, and vaccine passports will lead to QR codes on our phones, which we’ll all need to present at every restaurant, every gym, every library, every theater… everywhere we go.

Yes, I’m also worried about overcrowded hospitals and stressed-out healthcare workers. And of course, I’m worried about those who won’t survive this thing. But I’m more worried about the path we’re headed down… and that path is paved with mandates.

In my province (as in most Canadian provinces) Mike Rowe’s fears have mostly all come to pass. We have to wear a mask to enter all public settings and workplaces. We need to show our vaccine passport (with a QR code) to enter restaurants, theatres, concerts, fitness facilities etc that want to operate at normal capacity. We can’t board a plane or train without our vaccine passport… and we can’t enter our own country without a vaccine passport…

“I’m worried that we’ve become irrationally averse to risk. – Mike Rowe. Graphic Source: https://xkcd.com/

On a safety spectrum, I’d say much of Canada is highly Safety first. Some parts of the USA – maybe not so much. Which makes it kind of funny that the
Canada Travel Advisory is to Avoid Non-Essential Travel to the United States; the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory: Canada – Level 4: Do Not Travel Due to very high level of COVID-19…

My post on A Safety Third Philosophy in a Safety First World

Cold – When Centigrade and Fahrenheit are Equal

JUST HOW COLD IS IT?
Weather wise, it has been a cold Christmas/New Year here in Alberta. Temperatures have hovered in the sub -20C (-4F) range, but dipped to -40C (-40F) several nights. (Yes, at -40, the two temperature scales collide and agree that it is too cold to go anywhere, assuming your car will even start…)

There is nothing as bad as being alone and too cold.
You become totally ice-olated and cut off.
– Author Unknown –

THE LIGHTER SIDE OF SNOW PLOW SEASON
Twelve snowplows in Chatham-Kent (a Municipality in Ontario, Canada) are sporting new names, thanks to a naming contest:
Anita Shovel
Gordie Plow
Blizzard of Oz
Darth Blader
Pillsbury Plowboy
Sled Zepplin
Buzz Ice-Clear
Qunuk (Inuit word for snowflake)
Flurrious George
School’s Not Cancelled
Snobi One Kenobi
Sleetwood Mac

IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS
Yes, this is how we kept our feet dry inside our boots. Winter boots were often rubbery things that we pulled over our shoes, then buckled up. Spring, summer and fall boots were the same pull on rain boots that we buy today. All boots eventually leaked.  Hence the bread bags that we wore over our feet, inside our boots. (I think we used Sunbeam bread bags.)

Cold? Go Stand in the Corner. It’s 90 degrees.

DID YOU EVER WONDER

Why are there no dead penguins on the ice in the Antarctic? Where do they all go?
Well, Penguins are very ritualistic birds that live extremely ordered and complex lives.
If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, family members and their social circle will dig a hole in the ice with their little wings and beaks. When the hole is deep enough, they will roll the dead bird in to it, then fill the hole back up.
Then the penguins will gather in a circle around the icy grave and sing:
“Freeze a jolly good fellow.
Freeze a jolly good fellow.”
… you really didn’t believe that I know anything about penguins, did you?
– Author Unknown –

If you rarely drive on snow, just pretend you are taking your grandma to church. There’s a platter of biscuits and 2 gallons of sweet tea in glass jars in the back seat. She’s wearing a new dress and holding a crock pot full of gravy.
– Twitter advice from @Chadsu42 –

HAVE YOU HAD THE SNIFFLES YET?
Another kind of circulating cold is the OmiCold. Oh, I know that isn’t what this Covid Variant is being called yet, but when you have mild symptoms (cold, flu or even covid like) and your government tells you to just stay home (isolate) AND you are not mandated to get tested, then it seems like Omicron is being lumped in with its sibling cold coronaviruses – 229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1.

 

https://xkcd.com/

For up to date and non-scare mongering advice, I consult my Doctor and watch the videos posted by Dr. Zubin Damania. His Alt-Middle vision of health and communication is refreshing. His latest take on Omicron is Omicron and the Endemic Phase of Covid.

I did an analysis of Covid stats in my province: ‘Rona Virus – The Alberta Picture. Yes, Covid is ‘real’ – but we now know it targeted some groups much more severely than others.

RETURNING TO THE WEATHER
You can read more quotes about the weather at “Weather and Season Quotations”.

Spike and the Variants – Will Omicron be the New Lead Singer?

Spike and the Variants – a Zentangle by Margy

‘Spike and the Variants’ continue their highly successful world tour, though their lead singers continue to be ousted and replaced by members of the new generations. In Alberta, Alpha finally stepped back (for the good of the band) and let Delta lead the climb to the top of the charts for the second half of 2021. Today there are rumours that Omicron might push it aside, but time will tell whether the new upstart has what it takes to lead a new wave of ‘dispopularity’.

What Doesn’t Kill you… mutates and tries again…

… doesn’t this sound like elections too?

12th Blog Anniversary and 1000 Posts

Two milestones to celebrate – my 12th Blogging Anniversary and my 1000th post on this blog; (another 87 posts – the more serious and political ones – are at my alternate identity, Counter Current)!

Highlights (and a few low lights) of the past twelve years:

Morgan or Montana Moose – though Mandate Moose would have been a better name…

How many people can say they get frequent visits from the  Munching Moose Tree and Hedge Maintenance Service?
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Three Great Horned Owlets

Our property was also home to a Great Horned Owl family that nested in a large spruce tree on the edge of our driveway.

I also did 138 Wild-life stories that document all the birds, bugs and animals I saw and 88 posts about Plants.
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On the Humour front, I did 95 posts of funny Quotations and 1000 posts that had at least one moment of happiness embedded in the verbiage.
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I’ve posted 45 Craft Projects.  The interior decor of the Red House reminds me of the front of the family fridge when there were school age kids in our house: a bunch of crafts that sometimes only a ‘mother’ can love…
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“Into each life a little rain must fall.”

In 2012, The Car Guy was in a bad motorcycle accident. Man and bike both recovered, though the Harley looked like new after the restoration and The Car Guy  – not so much.
In 2013 there was a lot of rain. Our entire Cabin Community was destroyed. Though we weren’t able the save much from our cabin, the Car Guy did manage to salvage   our old lawnmower!
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My review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of  Covid-19. I did about 40 posts about the virus, none of which went viral…

2, 4, 6, 8… Who Needs to Isolate?
My blogging life started in November 2009 during the peak of the second wave of the novel virus H1N1pdm09 pandemic. It was also known as the ‘Swine Flu’. The Cornell Daily Sun joked about the pig connection with the headline: ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It, And I Feel Swine…’

I’ve also lived through two other relatively serious pandemics – two Avian flus: the  Asian flu of 1957-1958  and the Hong Kong Flu of 1968-1970 . How did all three of these pandemics compare to Covid-19? No one will ever really know. Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been tracked differently and the collateral damage from lock downs, reduction in non-covid medical treatment and school closures will be difficult to measure.

Is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a Deeply Offensive Song about Climate Change Denialism?
My blogging ‘career’ also coincided with COP15 (Conference of the Parties) which was held in Copenhagen in late 2009. COP26 (the 2021 version) is in full swing in Glasgow.  21,000 delegates, 13,000 observers and 3,000 members of the media will talk about how to cut emissions… do they understand the irony?

I’ll end this retrospective with this:

My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask.
― Sebastyne Young –

‘Rona Virus – It Feels Like the Movie ‘Groundhog Day’

Do you remember the movie ‘Groundhog Day’? Bill Murray portrays Phil Connors, a cynical television weatherman covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He becomes trapped in a time loop, forcing him to relive February 2nd repeatedly

Welcome to the ‘Groundhog Day’ Pandemic

Here in Alberta, we are in the fourth wave of ‘Spike and the Variants’. Like the previous three waves, it is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. For the past 18 months we have been subjected repeatedly to  ‘short sharp lockdowns’ that aren’t short. The difference with the fourth wave is that now we have enough vaccine for everyone – except not everyone has chosen to get jabbed and not everyone who got jabbed has the same immune response. Thankfully we haven’t been put into another ‘lockdown’ but we have been mandated back into masks, have restrictions for gatherings and need vaccine passports to enter some venues, etc, etc.

On the plus side, The Car Guy and I are surrounded by vaccinated family and friends whose risk tolerance is similar to ours. We live carefully, but a bit more liberally, than the more fearful do.

The ‘Groundhog Day’ Election

Canada’s Federal Election (#44) was held on September 20, 2021.  Prime Minister Trudeau called it mid way through his term. He hoped he would get a majority government.

The election cost the taxpayers $612 million (the most expensive election in Canadian history). What did we get for our money? Same old, same old. Justin Trudeau is once again the Prime Minister of a minority government  but with the new distinction of having the slimmest share of overall electoral support in Canadian history (32.6% of the popular vote.)  The voter turnout, at about 62% is one of the lowest since Canada’s first election in 1867 (maybe having an election during the fourth wave of the pandemic had something to do with that).

Journalist Tristin Hopper probably summed it up best:  at $36.02 per vote,  16,991,074 voters might as well have bought a  24-pack of Molson Canadian Beer instead.

Unlike this election result, at least the movie Groundhog Day was rewarding.
– Tasha Kheiriddin –


Fortunately, there is still a lighter side to the ‘Rona Virus:

Prime Minister ‘No Intention of Triggering an Election’ Calls an Election

May 2021: There Will Not be a Pandemic Election in Canada: A motion in the House of Commons was supported by all but one of Canada’s parliamentarians. It denounced a pandemic election and agreed that the government should prevent it from happening. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reinforced that the Liberal government had no intention of triggering an election before the pandemic is over.

June 2021: The moment Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cut his ‘quarantine curls’ and shaved his greying beard, some pundits speculated that he would call an election. Others said Trudeau would uphold the intent of the May motion and that he wouldn’t put the lives of Canadians in danger with an unnecessary pandemic election.

August 2021: There Will be a Pandemic Election: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election for September 20 in the midst of what Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says is a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, now being driven by the Delta variant.

Are you a politician or does lying just run in your family?
– Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe –

Why would Trudeau call an election? He wants more power. Justin’s Liberals won only a minority government in October 2019. Though they have been supported  by the other left of centre parties (which has allowed them to govern as though they have a majority) he wants a Liberal majority government. The health cost to those who will be involved in this campaign, and the financial cost to the taxpayers, apparently isn’t a concern to him.

Trudeau says “Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against COVID-19.” The election comes as Canada is experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 cases, driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus. Trudeau called it “the fourth wave amongst unvaccinated people.”
– ROB GILLIES, Associated Press –

‘Rona Virus – Goodbye Restrictions, Hello Summer Heat!

Covid Be Gone!
Good News here in Alberta. All Covid restrictions were lifted on July 1, in time for Canada Day! (Some municipalities and businesses will still have mask and/or social distance mandates and masks are still required on public transit, in taxis and in ride-share vehicles.)

Covid Virus – Spike and the Variants
In early May I wrote a post about ‘Spike and the Variants‘, likening them to a really terrible rock group. I’ve used my drawing of Spike and the group to make some thank you cards for the people who have helped us maintain our sanity for over a year now.

I also used the Spike zentangle drawing to make a dimensional paper tole picture. Using four printed copies of the Spike drawing, I cut and pasted successive layers, removing more of the drawing each time.

Here is the picture from an angle, to show the layers.

I mounted the finished paper picture on a glazed ceramic wall tile. The Car Guy built the frame, which I painted a semi-gloss black. I finished this project just a few days before the restrictions were lifted – good timing!

Heat Wave and Canada Day
Our part of the world had a week of unseasonably hot days, with temperatures peaking at 36.3C (97.3F) on Canada Day. Fortunately, our celebration this year was low key compared to Canada Days of the past. Some years we have hosted up to 40 people for a BBQ, but this year we opted for a small brunch with two close friends. Good choice. The temp by brunch was 30C (86F) with winds gusting up to 43 kph (27 mph or ‘umbrellas used with difficulty wind’.) Also, a wasp nest under the deck, directly under the shaded area I planned on dining at, was sending up swarms of attackers. We moved the brunch indoors – much easier to do for a table of four!

That night the city nearest to us had a half hour fireworks display which we could see and hear from our back yard!

The Heat Wave is over
… for now. We’ve had several soaking rains with more in the forecast. My garden is much happier. The Car Guy and I didn’t suffer as much as the plants did. Our 40 year old house was well built to withstand cold and heat. The original owners also installed an air conditioner. We normally only use it for a day or two each year. For the past week it has been kicking on like clock work when the outside temperature peaks at about 3 PM. Kudos to Sears for a reliable workhorse.

Perhaps after the past 14 months, we’ve learned and grown, and now that we’re once again free to do those previously mundane activities coronavirus took from us—hugging one another, crowding into concert venues, fighting a stranger for the armrest on airplanes—we’ll be so grateful to be back to our old ways. We’ll be walking around aglow in appreciation, utterly unwilling to go back to taking such basic everyday freedoms for granted.
– Clay Skipper, msn –

What denied ‘mundane’ activity have you resumed doing with a feeling of freedom and happiness?

‘Rona Virus – 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 Virus – 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 Virus – 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 at the virus link below.