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September 19, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Over 1,000 new cases in Canada for the second day in a row, and we know there are areas where people are giving up on getting tested due to long wait times. (We can fix the wait times standing in line, even without more capacity - see yesterday's entry.) But we do need to increase testing capacity, reduce turn-around time on results, improve accuracy, and step up on contact tracing as case counts mount.

The U.S. will likely pass the 7,000,000 mark for COVID-19 cases tomorrow, about 2% of the entire U.S. population. Over 50,000 new cases yesterday alone.

While it's natural for us to focus on the situation close to home, remember this is a global pandemic. If your idea of normal includes re-opening borders for personal travel to see friends and family, we have a long way to go before that will be on the table again. Accept it and act to bring the pandemic under control. It's an overwhelming problem with small solutions for now.

The world added more than 315,000 cases yesterday and over 5,500 new deaths related to COVID-19.

I can understand 'pandemic fatigue'. But I can't submit to it, because pretending COVID-19 isn't out there waiting to pounce is the recipe for additional disaster. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the unending drumbeat of bad news (like I seem to lead off with every day here), lose motivation and give up. The heroes in this struggle with SARS-CoV-2 are those that keep slogging on, day after day, to reduce virus transmission and help others at work, in the community, and at home.

‘Pandemic fatigue’ leads to resurgence of coronavirus in Europe where cases hit fresh records in France and Spain

Schools Re-opening

‘We’re playing pandemic roulette with our children.’ After all the province’s promises, parents shocked to see some class sizes are bigger than ever.

COVID-19 cases confirmed at 15 Ottawa elementary and secondary schools.

OCDSB custodians 'run ragged,' union official says.

School custodians strive to keep COVID out. But here's what they do when there's an outbreak.

'I don't need this job. Fix it.' School bus drivers question safety.

Teacher came to work with symptoms, masks not worn before COVID-19 outbreak that shut down school.

How wearing a mask at school can impact a child's development.

Kids, masks & back-to-school FAQs: Are cloth masks best to protect against COVID-19? How often should masks be washed?

Sorry to burst your COVID-19 'social bubble' but even small gatherings are getting riskier
Experts question merits of social circles amid rising case counts, return to school

How a handful of students caused Western University's COVID-19 outbreak https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/western-university-students-outbreak-1.5728015

;-) A propos of nothing in particular, this came my way recently:
     CockWomble (noun)
     A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid
     statements and/or inappropriate behaviour while generally
     having a very high opinion of their own wisdom/importance.
          Now, see if you can use it in a sentence.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.
With thanks to those making the effort, every day, for us all.

September 18, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

This is getting old, fast. Canada reported 1,120 new COVID-19 cases yesterday (another increase) and 7 more deaths. So we have reached 9,200 deaths and over 140,000 cases. The scoring here is like golf - the lowest count wins.

The U.S. under-count is now over 202,000 deaths and 6.8 million cases. With over 40,000 new cases a day, the U.S. is actually doing better now than in July. Sigh.

The world is on track to hit a million deaths from COVID-19 before the end of September. Again, the global numbers are under-counts.

COVID-19 News Items

You may have heard that there are issues with capacity for COVID-19 testing in Ontario ( and elsewhere), as well as long waits as organizing has not yet kept up with demand. (Not all of us have the option of heading over to the dedicated testing site for Parliamentarians and their families when Ontario's lack of organization and capacity leaves people in line for hours, which is going to get a lot less appealing when the temperatures get wintry.)

Here's a possible solution for the long line-ups from an Ottawa company, now being used in BC and elsewhere (but apparently not in Ontario). I had the opportunity to introduce this product to some health care agencies a couple of years back, and it has been well received. (This solution has to implemented by the organization providing the service.)

CommForms has entered the gap in COVID-19 logistics, and now provides secure, multi-lingual online forms for booking COVID-19 test appointments - no more line-ups required. The forms include:
+ Booking forms for COVID-19 Assessment Centres
+ COVID-19 Health Screener
+ COVID-19 Consent Form
in addition to the existing portfolio of forms for home and community care agencies, dental clinics, nursing services and more.

I'll also say that CommForms is a nimble company with a solid platform, so they can respond to new requirements quickly.

In my opinion, worth a look. https://www.commforms.ca/

Improve COVID-19 testing logistics, eliminate the need for line-ups and support a local Canadian business during the pandemic. If you know any organization that could use this sort of superior online presence to improve services and reduce waiting times, share widely.

Transmissions detected between masked people: Richmond health officer
Masks are not a 100% solution; they're not enough to create protection to stop transmission. Many health authorities have bet on masks, and infection rates are rising. You should be smarter; don't rely on masks. Reduce interactions, maintain physical distancing (2-3 metres), frequent handwashing, don't touch your face, use better protection devices.

Outdoor transmission of COVID-19 has happened in B.C., says Dr. Henry.

What we know about Ontario's September surge in COVID-19 infections
New case numbers are rising steeply and public health officials can't trace where many got infected https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/covid-19-ontario-cases-data-1.5726687
Perhaps Ontario should have been investing in more tracing capacity during the months before the second wave starts, if it hasn't already.

I have already written about how people can log their out-of-home travels without digital intrusion on their lives, so they can have a good record in case they learn afterwards they are infected or have been exposed. http://www.econogics.com/blog_2020_April.htm#2020.04.09

Case of Ontario man who ignored COVID-19 quarantine order shows challenges of crucial contact tracing

Ontario slashes gathering limits in three COVID-19 hotspots. Here are the new rules

America Needs to Lock Down Again
The Only Way to Slow the Coronavirus Until the Arrival of a Vaccine

For some COVID-19 patients, the first symptom is not a cough, but a stroke.

It's easy to point the finger at parties — but younger Canadians spread COVID-19 in all kinds of settings

Canada’s largest private retirement home operator wants to stop quarantining new residents — but experts say that could put seniors at risk

Hospital employee feels 'worthless' after error forces 200 workers to return pandemic pay

A vaccine may not be the simple solution we are hoping for

Why a vaccine can provide better immunity than an actual infection

'This is NOT a blip': COVID-19 cases are accelerating in Canada. Should we be worried?

If you are math/statistics-averse, don't worry too much about the steps to get to the total, just recognize that getting to 260,000 infections had to start from just one.
U.S. biker rally may have led to 260,000 new COVID-19 cases: study

Here's the latest good reason to wear a face mask
(Unless you have a better option, like staying home, physical distancing, better face covering protection.)

Public health lessons learned from biases in coronavirus mortality overestimation

Support for Atlantic bubble remains strong even as some question its constitutionality

Because the icon for the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly toilet paper
Petalo, not Charmin: Virus brings Mexican toilet paper to US.
Perhaps the U.S. will impose punitive tariffs on TP.

;-) If two's company, and three's a crowd, what are four and five?

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 17, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

The trend lines are troubling. Canada reported 944 new COVID-19 cases yesterday (up from 793 the day before), and 5 more deaths. With the bursting bubbles which will come from schools re-opening, I fear we are starting the second wave in Canada before fall and flu season even get into gear.

The world has now passed through 30,000,000 cases, which is without doubt an undercount as some countries clearly are not reporting fully for political / propaganda reasons.

And the U.S., ravaged by fire on the west and Hurricane Sally in the south-east has reported more than 200,000 deaths and over 2 million infected but not recovered out of the over 6.8 million cases reported.

Fortress Fossil Fuels Highlights/Gaslights

Donald Trump’s fossil fuel agenda gets pushback from U.S. federal judges

BP And Shell Take A Stand Against Gas Flaring In Texas
Of course, reducing the demand for oil from Texas would also reduce the practice of flaring natural gas.

Abandoned Gas Wells Are Left to Spew Methane for Eternity
Puts new meaning and urgency into the reluctant 'action' industry and government are taking on proper clean-up and remediation of abandoned and orphaned wells.

South Korea Will Close Half Its Coal-Fired Fleet

Oil Tanker Industry Is In An Ocean Of Trouble

Why we still can’t stop oil spills from damaging the environment
I'll call this article an industry-friendly synopsis of a response.
A more salient and short response would be: they're not trying. The Macondo post-explosion and fire science experiment proved that dispersants are not an effective oil spill removal tool, even under ideal conditions. So it's amusing that the article dismisses bioremediants for not being uniformly effective on different kinds of oils and under different climate conditions, which is also true of dispersants.

There is definitely at least one effective technology for 'mopping up' the oil, more accurately called mechanical recovery, not based on vacuuming up massive amounts of water to get the slight film of oil on the surface after spreading for a few hours. The oil industry, and it's subsidiaries in the oil clean-up theatre business are terrified of innovation being brought to bear on their messes, in case they might have to pick up the bill themselves.


Hurricane Laura's Aftermath: Miles of Oil Sheen in Louisiana's Wetlands

Nornickel says it collected more than 90% of fuel leaked by Arctic spill to rivers
Seems unlikely to me. By now, I would have expected more than 10% of a diesel spill to have evaporated, so there shouldn't be 90% left to recover.

Oil industry paints grimmer picture of pandemic's harm to demand

Why Poland is finally giving up its dirty coal habit
Spoiler: it's the money.

Oil Major BP Makes First Ever Move In Offshore Wind Energy
Uh-huh. The money.

Trans Mountain races to the finish line as two other pipeline projects near completion
Taxpayer money.

Alberta's Jason Kenney says Energy East pipeline remains a possibility
Sounds like more taxpayer money.

This 'Bitumen Boondoggle' is costing Alberta taxpayers billions
Still more taxpayer money.

Mercedes-Benz fined $1.5 billion for emissions cheating.
Canada didn't go after VW for its cheating, while in the U.S. the settlement funded the installation of a network of high- capacity electric vehicle chargers (Electrify America). I wonder if the Canadian federal government could make a settlement with MB to help fund the 'green recovery'. Perhaps $200 million?

;-) Considering all the lint you get in your dryer, if you kept
    drying your clothes would they eventually just disappear?
     (My socks already seem to disappear in the dryer, one at a time.)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 16, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

“So to sum up: The West is burning; the Arctic is melting; the National Hurricane Center is tracking eight major systems; and the WHO reports the largest single-day increase of coronavirus cases globally.”
- Christian Davenport of the Washington Post as quoted in Politico

Back on the ranch (Canada), where our political leadership is still mouthing the words, but where actions show they are still in climate change denial and continue to bumble through the COVID-19 global pandemic, 793 new COVID-19 cases were reported with 9 additional deaths.

In the 'war on COVID', COVID is winning.

Schools Re-opening

Former teacher creates morbid display on front lawn protesting back-to-school plan.

No masks, no distancing: Schools in Denmark defy COVID-19 — with success so far

Student ridership on school buses sees significant decline, as drivers quit over COVID-19 concerns

Masks and class sizes are weak points as schools reopen, Sick Kids study suggests

Parents are split on preference to send their children back to school during the pandemic

Jelly Beans

(thanks to RA for planting this seed in my mind)

How do you communicate the dull statistics of COVID-19 to those not really math-enthused (let alone statistics)? I'm taking some liberties with some numbers because credible data just doesn't exist for some the categories below, but I think anecdotes support my rough ball-park numbers.

Suppose I put a bowl of jelly beans in front of you, and you really, really like jelly beans. There are 100 jelly beans in the bowl. 7 are black. 13 are red. 20 are yellow. The remaining 60 are green. That represents the proportions of outcomes for Canadians who contract the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus: 7 die; 13 have long recoveries or significant long-term new health impacts; 20 have milder long-term health effects or serious effects that manifest months after the initial infection; and, 60 have no significant long-term health effects evident within six months of infection.

100 COVID-19 Jelly Beans
Before you take a jelly bean, here's the trick: the colour coding does not correspond to the consequences. In short, if you take a jelly bean of ANY colour, there is a 7% chance it will kill you within days. A 33% chance you will suffer some long-term health effect. A 60% chance that you will return to reasonable version of your previous state of health for at least six months - that's the best known outcome.

How many jelly beans from the bowl will you eat?
How does that map to your actual behaviour to avoid becoming infected?

(Because my art skills are non-existent, I took the first jelly bean for the figure from clipartbest.com.)

;-) Another of life's mysteries:
     How do those dead bugs get into those closed light fixtures?

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 15, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

As of September 14, Canada has reported 138,010 cases of COVID-19, with 9,179 deaths. That's an increase of 1,351 new cases in a single day and 8 additional deaths. The day before, those numbers were 518 and 1. Some of that may be a weekend non-reporting artifact, but the trend is still clear and disturbing.

COVID-19 News Items

Why the acceleration in new COVID-19 cases in Canada is concerning

Ontario's R number is now 1.3, which means that for 100 current COVID-19 cases, those infected now will cause an additional 130 cases. We want this number to be less than 1, not greater than 1. The idea that each 'generation' of cases (2-3 week incubation and transmission period) is 30% higher than the previous 'generation' is terrifying.

The 'Atlantic bubble' has held off COVID-19, but is it worth the cost to civil liberties?

We are on this knife-edge trying to keep our balance': Health officials raise alarm about growing COVID-19 numbers.

‘We’re family — we didn’t think we could get this disease from each other’: Toronto officials highlight COVID infection stories as case count rises.
Their 'bubble' becomes your 'extended bubble'. School re-openings means families with kids in school are expanding their 'bubbles' exponentially.

Review of Scientific Data Regarding Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings (CDC)
After a lot of research, seems to come down to: keep your distance, wash your hands, clean surfaces and items, wear protective gear to protect the wearer. Infectious patients are put in isolation, not given a mask and sent on their way.

I have written before that avoiding the infection is a much better approach than contracting the disease and recovering from it. This article provides a concise sense of the possible outcomes from surviving a brush with SARS-CoV-2.
Why the Pandemic Will Be a Long, Long Haul

Now's no time for complacency, COVID-19 'long-hauler' warns

It's also worth noting that as the data comes in, there is NO evidence of long-term immunity for those who have survived their first round with COVID. Re-infections have now been documented, less than six months after initial recovery.

Few Canadian blood donors had coronavirus antibodies as of May: study

To my mind, it's clear that 're-opening' in much of Canada (Atlantic provinces and northern territories appearing to be the exception) has led to complacency, and now we're seeing the impacts of the change in mind-set during August. The basics - before we came to rely on cloth masks - were working to keep community transmission at manageable levels. Continuing to rely on the proper behaviour of others is not a safe option, so I'll recommend again the face-shield and curtain device to protect you from the possible infection by others when you can't avoid close contact (less than 2-3 metres) with others you don't know. Your call.

We’re chasing the virus again. But Premier Doug Ford doesn’t seem to be in a rush

Sleep apnea patients at greater risk of developing COVID-19 complications, study finds

Not enough Covid-19 vaccine for all until 2024, says biggest producer

Surge in cases means Ontario won’t change COVID-19 restrictions for at least a month

Canada spent $147M on a public health surveillance system that isn't being used during COVID pandemic

Here's who's eligible for a COVID-19 antibody test in Ontario

;-) Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator
     with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 14, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

As of Sunday, Canada has reported 9,171 COVID-19 deaths from 136,659 confirmed cases. Our national death rate has fallen to 6.7% courtesy of a summer where we took health measures seriously and dramatically lowered the transmission rate. Deaths is a lagging indicator, and with transmission rates rising again, expect this number to increase again through the fall and winter.

Globally, we could reach 30 million cases today, and will likely exceed 930,000 deaths from COVID-19. The world-wide death rate from those infected is about 4%.

Climate Change

Climate change will ultimately cost humanity $100,000 per ton of carbon, scientists estimate

The climate crisis could displace 1.2B people by 2050

56 Countries Gather Online In Their Quest To Fix Climate Change

'Staggering' 28 trillion tonnes of ice has vanished from Earth’s surface due to global warming

Canadian company creates concrete from carbon dioxide in the air

These Canadian ice caps were estimated to melt by 2022 — they’re already gone

States Are Doing What Big Government Won’t to Stop Climate Change

Climate explained: methane is short-lived in the atmosphere but leaves long-term damage

CO2 makes trees live fast and die young: study

Lifetime carbon emissions for EVs is much lower than previously suggested: Study highlights errors https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1129478_lifetime-carbon-emissions-for-evs-is-much-lower-than-previously-suggested-study-highlights-errors
The Eindhoven University of Technology study can be found at:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/xblk4g7zeboa7v7/englisch_Studie EAuto versus Verbrenner_CO2.pdf

Greenhouse gases hit a new record high despite pandemic lockdowns, UN says

Greenhouse gas emissions around the world nearly back to pre-pandemic levels

3.2 BILLION people will have a shortage of drinking, study finds

UN report: Covid crisis does little to slow climate change

Rise in sea level from ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica match worst-case scenario: study

Massive holes appear in Siberian tundra with possible link to climate change

Meet the Canadian farmers fighting climate change

Young Innovators: U of S software helps predict floods and freshwater supplies

;-) You matter.
       Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light ...
       then you energy.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 12, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

702 new cases reported Friday is another jump in the daily new cases rate, up 10% from the day before. No additional deaths reported, which is a novel event. My worry is that cases likely to occur due to the re-opening of schools likely won't appear for another couple of weeks. Around here, testing is a time-consuming process for the citizens, so I can only imagine some people are choosing to forgo the time penalty.

Schools Re-opening

Many provinces not investing enough to make schools safe
So here's my issue with statements by officials that re-opening schools will inevitably lead to more COVID-19 infections. In Canada, the death rate for those who have been confirmed to have the SARS-CoV-2 virus is 7%. So far, anecdotally, that number appears to be lower for those in their pre-teen years, but it's not zero, and they can be carriers. For me the implicit, but unaddressed, question for those officials is: what's the acceptable death toll amongst students and school staff from re-opening the schools? For those who will suffer debilitating health effects as part of their 'recovery'?

Don Martin: Bubbles collide in the classroom as the most daring educational experiment of our time begins

Escalating conflict between Ontario government and teachers unions leaves schools in cloud of uncertainty

'We'll never be able to keep up': School custodians fear burnout, fatigue due to understaffing

Order saying Alberta schools won't have to enforce social distancing lands like a sucker punch

Manitoba makes changes to the rules for masks on school buses

Dr. Peter Lin offers back-to-school tips for protecting children and families from COVID-19

Keep sick kids home from school even if they test negative for COVID-19, pediatricians warn parents

What's missing from Canada's plans to get kids back to school safely

School bus policy a 'slap in the face' to parents without cars, says C.B.S. woman

'Deeply horrified': Ottawa English boards are short by more than 100 bus drivers

Ontario Edcuation Minister has back to school concerns hit close to home
'IT'S SCARY': Some Ontario students begin return to class

School-specific provincial database shows nearly half of new cases in Ottawa schools

Spike in Ontario teachers seeking medical exemptions from work amid COVID-19 pandemic

South Carolina 3rd grade teacher, 28, dies from COVID-19

Online schooling? Don't forget to practise good cyber hygiene

;-) Treat your mask like underwear:
         1) Do not touch or adjust (especially in public)
         2) Do not borrow or lend
         3) Make sure it's tight but comfortable
         4) Make sure it's clean (daily or as needed)
         5) Wear the right side out
         6) If there's a hole in it, dispose of it
         7) If it's stained, dispose of it
         8) If it's damp, change it
     and, try not to get the two confused.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 11, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

With 630 new COVID-19 cases and 8 additional deaths reported in Canada on Thursday, we're clearly moving in the wrong direction. We will likely hit 135,000 total cases today. BC has started to reimpose health emergency restrictions and Ontario has halted any further lifting of restrictions for 4 weeks.

As Woodward's reporting shows that the U.S. President has been gaslighting Americans on COVID-19 for over six months now, the consequences show in the undoubtedly under-reported numbers. 6,588,825 officially confirmed cases; 196,345 deaths and only 3,880,706 'recovered'. Given the downside consequences of 'recovered', I wonder what limbo the other 2,511,774 are living with. I think it's going to be a very long time before the Canada-U.S. border re-opens to pre-COVID conditions.

While we battle the COVID-19 pandemic locally, let's remember it's a global pandemic, with over 28 million cases and over 900,000 deaths.

Fortress Fossil Fuels Highlights/Gaslights

Normally, I try not to dig in to day to day oil price swings, because that signal is manipulated by power players. I'm making an exception this time, as this may represent a pivotal shift. In the past couple of years the U.S. fracked oil industry has taken a beating, as they 'pumped into the glut', losing money on what they sold, but without any choice because once you start a fracked well, you have to keep it going, or lose it for good.

The Saudis have had a key advantage in that price-war game; they can ramp oil production up and down without damaging wells because they have have old-school, simple, conventional light oil wells. If the Saudis are pumping into the glut rather than holding back to increase world prices, there are two likely explanations.
1) politically (domestic), they can't afford to give up the revenue, and have become price-takers; or,
2) they recognize that the oil industry as a whole is moving to its shelf-life date due to competing (renewables) energy sources and the shift for transportation fuels from oil (gasoline, diesel, natural gas) to competitors (notably electric drive).

Oil prices are collapsing after Saudi Arabia sends ominous signal
Oil prices dive to lowest since June in wake of souring demand outlook

Aussie invention could save old coal stations by running them on zero-emissions 'Lego' blocks

States Are Closing Oil Rigs at an Alarming Rate

Jobs, billions at risk as Husky announces sweeping review of White Rose extension

One of the Oldest LNG Deals is Unraveling

New Diamond spills diesel oil as flames on board brought down

'War on plastic' could strand oil industry's £300bn investment

Oil Major Total, Carmaker PSA Set Up $6B EV Battery Venture

If the demand for gasoline is down in 2020 relative to 2019, I wonder if this sort of story could be a contributing factor.

Last night, I paid my gasoline bill for 2020. It was $28.09 for about 24.5 litres, fill-up from 1/4 tank. The most recent previous refuel I did in my Smart Fortwo was in December 2019. With COVID-19 likely to peak in a second wave this fall, I fully expect this fill-up will easily get me through the rest of the year.

I'm out on errands and even longer trips quite frequently. We have 2 electric cars in our household, and to the extent it's practical, I time my trips for shipping products, groceries, hardware items, etc. for when I can use one of the 2 electric cars. For work, I mostly telecommute. (I was working from home before COVID-19 made it chic.) If my past decade of home-based work and long-ago shift to electric transportation is any indication of where the rest of the working world is headed, the current hard times for the oil industry are easier to understand.

Speaking of cars, if yours is sitting idle a lot, take the time this weekend to start it up, check the tire pressures, and drive it a bit to move the fluids around and scrape some rust off the brake surfaces.

;-) Why was six afraid of seven?
     Because seven ate nine.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 10, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Yesterday, Canada reported 546 new COVID-19 cases and 2 deaths. The new cases trend line is troubling as a starting point for back to school and back to work driven by calendars rather than pandemic control.

COVID-19 News Items

COVID-19 antibody testing shows few healthy Canadians have had the virus.
With a 7% death rate for those diagnosed with COVID-19 in Canada, not getting infected is your best possible health measure.

Enough people are not taking COVID-19 seriously that it is impacting the prevention measures taken by the majority. I see it in people who refuse to wear their masks properly. My wife reports daily that she has pharmacy customers who loudly call out that the pandemic is a hoax. The following stories are about Ottawa-Gatineau, but this could happen anywhere. Complacency and continuing spreading of disinformation are risk factors.

One cottage party infection spread to 40 people, Etches says; Ontario reports 149 new cases.

COVID-19 outbreak at Ottawa nursing home spreads to 28 residents, 3 staff https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/west-end-villa-covid-19-outbreak-1.5716347

'Dangerous territory': How Ottawa-Gatineau became a COVID-19 hot spot, and what to do now

OC Transpo to target 'hot spots' where fewer users follow mask protocols

Calls for more coronavirus testing sites as Ottawa's COVID-19 cases climb

In my opinion, if you want to avoid catching the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and you have to spend any amount of time indoors with people outside your known-to-be-safe social bubbles, it's not enough to rely on the good will and competence of others - you have to take defensive measures as well to protect yourself.

Community measures have not been fully successful, and the risk factors are rising as we send students back to school, share space on school buses and public transit as more people are returning to work places. Work place counter-measures are uneven and compliance falls entirely on the employer.

Wash your hands, properly, frequently and with soap. Hand sanitizer is a second-choice option. Stay home as much as you reasonably can. Maintain physical distancing when indoors with others. Wear barrier protection which is effective. Even a quality mask won't protect your eyes. Use a face-shield or goggles and a good mask. Wash or replace masks frequently, especially if exposed to others. The face-shield will reduce your face-touching, while protecting your eyes, nose and mouth.

For myself, I'm using my shield and curtain arrangement everywhere I enter an enclosed space open to others outside my bubble.

I have written before about the outsize impacts and underweight government response, respect and funding for long-term care facilities and the still largely invisible home and community based health care workers.

COVID-19 has taken 'heavy toll' on female immigrants working in health care, report says

Perhaps this is a sign of a shift to a more rational approach, at least in BC.
B.C. to spend $1.6B, hire thousands of health-care workers for flu season

We KNOW that home-based care is lower cost to the public purse with better outcomes for the person receiving care. We KNOW that regular contact enables preventive care, and preventive care is lower cost with better outcomes for people. Let's shift to providing better care at lower cost to those with chronic health issues, and make sure we support the paid and unpaid caregivers.

;-) Chemistry. It's like cooking.
     (Just don't lick the spoon.)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 9, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Tuesday, back after the Labour Day weekend, Canada reported significant growth in the number of new cases, from 131,124 last week to 134,077. In 5 days, that's almost 3,000 more cases, or 600 per day. Fortunately, the death count rose by only 11 over that 5 day period. It's too early to see the impacts of school re-openings on a broad basis, but I expect it won't be pretty by the end of this month.

The world is quickly closing in on 28 million cases and has logged over 905,000 deaths.

COVID-19 News Items

Do you have 'Mask Mouth'?

Low-cost measurement of face mask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech
Interesting conclusion: a 'gaiter mask' is worse than no mask for droplet transmission at speech emissions levels.

She blew the whistle to protect seniors at the Rosslyn. She paid a price.
Consider this item if you believe the Ontario provincial government's first priority for long-term care homes was protecting the residents and staff and controlling spread into the community.

Suppose protecting these people had been a priority, on a par with preparing hospitals. Perhaps we would not have had stories about 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Canada were related to long-term care homes (residents, staff, visitors).
81% of COVID-19 deaths in Canada were in long-term care – nearly double OECD average

If these people had not died, if our COVID death rate had been reduced by 80%, then our record in Canada would not be that 7% of those infected die, but only 1.4%. That would be amazing.

New Zealand's corresponding number is 1.3%.

Droplet Spread From Humans Doesn’t Always Follow Airflow – Important Implications for Spread of COVID-19

B.C. is no longer a model for COVID-19 prevention — and getting back to that stage is no guarantee

Canada added 246,000 jobs in August, but employment still 1 million short of pre-COVID level
Looks like the 'checkmark' recovery I spoke of some time ago (https://econogics.com/blog_2020_July.htm#2020.07.11 - under Economy), especially as the rate of job / economic recovery inevitably slows a fter the early gains. Still, if we have recovered 2/3s of the jobs lost at the start of the pandemic from the bottom in April while keeping the infection rate under control, that's reassuring that we are largely on the right path for the current circumstances.

Getting back to where we were on employment will take time, and we need to adjust to the idea that a lot of us won't be doing the same jobs. More work in PPE production and supply, more work in bolstering front line health services, home-based health care and long-term health care options. More jobs in food preparation for take-out/pick-up and delivery, and fewer in restaurant dining rooms. More jobs in sectors where supply lines crossing our borders were taken hostage as we work to rebuild our economic independence and be less vulnerable to off-shore manufacturing.

There will likely be fewer jobs in the fossil fuel sector, as the oil and gas industry were aggressively shedding jobs in Canada before the pandemic via automation and off-shoring, and the pandemic has rocked demand world-wide. So far, that's not because there has been any significant move by governments to fund a 'green recovery' in Canada, but instead are shoveling money into fossil fuel industry supports, including building infrastructure paid for by taxpayers instead of industry. Ditto for clean-up of abandoned and orphaned oil wells. There appears to no appetite by the federal or Ontario governments to encourage the manufacture of electric vehicles here, or even key components for them.

Global Warming Could Cause Viruses to Evolve, Making Them Harder to Kill

;-) I'm not adding this year to my age.
     I didn't use it.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 5, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Friday, Canada reported 631 new COVID-19 cases, which is continuing a concerning rise over the past couple of weeks. I believe that community level control is a prerequisite to bursting the social bubbles by re-opening schools broadly. This latest data says we are not there in a number of Canadian communities. 6 additional deaths, but remember this is the lagging indicator.

So, let me echo the concerns of many health experts: follow the COVID-19 preventive measures this long weekend so you don't contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or pass it along to anyone else.

World and U.S. figures continue to be depressing. Let's be smarter than that here.

Also depressing, the oil and gas industry continues to make headlines this past couple of days, generally for the wrong reasons. Sigh.

Fortress Fossil Fuels Highlights/Gaslights

Environmental watchdog report says Alberta oilsands tailings ponds are tainting groundwater
This isn't news, other than to Alberta's chief scientist. Alberta and the federal government have pointedly not done a serious job of monitoring the areas adjacent to the bitumen tailings ponds or the groundwater in the area, despite long-standing requests to do so by local First Nations and health workers. These tailings ponds are not lined to prevent leakage, and they are essentially packed piles of sand and dirt for the most part.

Another occasional concern is breaches of the pond walls at times of heavy rains, as the walls are just packed sand and dirt.

Arctic shipping study exposes flaws in planned fuel ban

More rural communities say tax break for oil and gas firms could doom small Alberta towns

Canada has big plans to use hydrogen to cut emissions - and produce more oil
Sigh. More reality-defying hype from the Canadian government division of OPEC+.
So hydrogen will be produced from natural gas, creating CO2 gas as a by-product. The CO2 will then be used to pressurize oil and gas wells to produce more fossil fuels and put more CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. (Note 'stored', not 'sequestered' in the article.) It's hard to imagine that inserting the energy-intensive step of making more hydrogen from natural gas as part of the 'well-to-wheels' energy analysis will pen out to being better, if the impacts of using the captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is taken into account. If that is left out, it's just cooking the books on energy and emissions numbers.

[In a self-serving plug, I recommend reading the award-winning book "The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy", if you want a better understanding of the hydrogen hype and energy systems in general. Ebook available at: https://www.iuniverse.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/126185-The-Emperor-s-New-Hydrogen-Economy

(WARNING: there appear to be a couple of websites offering a free download of the PDF of this book. I have not authorized anyone to provide this text for free. At best this is simply piracy and copyright violation, however, it is more likely an identity theft operation.)]

Global Shipping’s Moral Authority Plunges In Mauritius As Pope Intervenes In Wakashio Saga

Mauritius oil spill: Was the government unprepared?

35 Days Of Mauritius Oil Spill Drama Seen Through The Lens Of 14 Local Photographers

Mauritius Seeks Quick Backdoor Deal With Japan For $34 Million Over Wakashio Oil Spill

New Oil Spill Fear In Indian Ocean With Sri Lanka Supertanker Fire

UPDATE 1-Algeria's Sonatrach says it controlled oil leaks

Oil products spill from sunken Delfi tanker occurs in Black Sea

A Decade After BP Oil Disaster, Gulf of Mexico Still Shows Scars

Fort Nelson's Gas Boom Went Bust. Who's Going to Clean Up?

U.S. Shale Faces Another Round Of Bankruptcies

ExxonMobil Rips Up $30B Growth Plan

BP halves dividend as Covid-19 turmoil pushes oil major to loss

;-) Clarke and Dawe - The US Oil Spill

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 4, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada added 570 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. The smoothed trend line is definitely on a slow rise nationally as we move to opening schools in the most populous province. Data will be weak from here until at least next Wednesday due to long weekend (non-)reporting. 6 additional deaths.

The U.S. reports 1,094 new deaths yesterday, and health experts are warning about a new surge expected to result from this coming long weekend's social activities. Per current data, so far, the U.S. has killed 577 per million from COVID-19, and there is no sign of their pandemic abating. On the brighter side for the U.S., only about 3% of those infected die from COVID-19, while the corresponding figure in Canada is 7% (based on government reporting in both countries).

Fortress Fossil Fuels Highlights/Gaslights

Refugio Oil Spill: What Restoration Looks Like 5 Years Later
From the article:
"Many locals were shocked that official personnel were not working on the scene immediately to remove oil form [sic] the coastline. The U.S. Coast Guard, which was the Unified Command Initial Response Leader at the time, did not allow for its designated first responders to begin meaningful containment and cleanup efforts until the next morning. In part because of a lack of effective immediate response, ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to clean the oiled beaches and rescue wildlife, risking their own health. To fill the void that responsible agencies should have taken, local organizations stepped up as community liaisons and leaders."

This is why oil spill response plans have to include local first responders. They will always be on scene before distant regulators or bureaucratic national and international official spill response organizations, costing valuable response time.

'Orwellian': Coalition accused of planning to open green bank to fossil fuel investments
'The Morrison government has been accused of planning to open up the taxpayer-owned green bank to fossil fuels investments through a change that explicitly defines gas-fired power as a “low-emissions technology”.'

Asphalt roads make city air pollution worse in summer, study finds

More Gas Pipelines Scrapped Than Put In Service In H1 2020

Canada is way behind on pledge to cut methane emissions, analysis shows

3 Dead In Mauritius As Wakashio Support Vessel Sinks In Coral Lagoon Towing Oil Barge

Exxon’s Imperial shuts oil-sands mine after pipeline spill

Canadian Oil and Gas Spending Plummets 54%

Big Oil's Backers Are Jumping Ship — and That's Good for the Planet

The oil sands fundamentals are dire and stark – and Canada shouldn’t spend to revive a dying dream

Fossil Fuels Are So, So Screwed

On the wrong track: Alberta loses $2.1B on crude-by-rail contracts

Fossil fuels given $3.1 trillion subsidies at 'staggering' twenty-times level of renewables

;-) Some days the supply of curse words is insufficient to meet my demands.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 3, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada will likely roll past the 130,000 number for reported COVID-19 cases today (currently at 129,923, having added 498 yesterday). 3 additonal deaths brought that running total to 9,135.

For those still thinking Sweden has the right answer, their per capita death rate is higher than that of the United States. Both rank behind Belgium, Spain, Italy and Brazil on this negative indicator.

COVID-19 News Items

America Doesn’t Have a Coherent Strategy for Asymptomatic Testing. It Needs One. https://www.propublica.org/article/america-doesnt-have-a-coherent-strategy-for-asymptomatic-testing-it-needs-one
Not just America. We should be requiring testing of all students and adults at each school PRIOR to the re-openings.

The official coronavirus death rate is so much lower than reality.
(the article is a bit dated now - 2 weeks - but the message is still applicable)

These promising coronavirus treatments are saving lives
Though no single drug is a “game-changer,” medications and improved standard care seem to be reducing death rates.

Nevada lab confirms 1st coronavirus reinfection in the US
Another re-infection case confirmed. Which means herd immunity can't work. It means that antibodies may only be effective for 3-4 months after a COVID-19 infection. It also means that a vaccine - if we develop one that works - will be complicated because it will need to address multiple strains.

In recent days, Africa reported it had eradicated wild polio virus from the continent. Perhaps that's the model we should be aiming for with COVID-19. Admittedly, COVID-19 may be a bigger challenge. For polio, we did eventually develop an effective vaccine.

Canada’s COVID Alert app is a case of tech-driven bad policy design
The article does not say if Ottawa Public Health is prepared to prevent a school from re-opening based on their findings as the visit the schools.

Health Canada changes course on COVID-19 testing at home

Canada to buy 76 million doses of Novavax's potential coronavirus vaccine

Finding COVID-19 answers in sewage

'It never went away': What the 1918 flu can tell us about when life might return to 'normal'

Survey shows seniors have preference for home care
Imagine if more seniors had been able to shelter effectively at home instead of being in long-term care homes at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. How many lives would have been saved?

Personal support workers are the backbone of health care but the bottom of the power structure

;-) Pretty wild how we used to eat cake after someone had blown on it.
     Good times ...

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 2, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Tuesday, Canada reported 477 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 more deaths. The grind continues.

In the U.S., officials have now under-reported over 6.25 million COVID-19 cases and 188,907 deaths. That means 1.9% of the U.S. population are confirmed to have had the SARS-CoV-2 infection, and 0.06% of the total population have died from it. In under six months.

World-wide, almost 26 million cases reported, and over 860,000 deaths.

Digital Deception

If you're spending more time at home, working, isolating, caring for others, generally trying to keep your personal exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to a minimum, how would you be impacted if your data communications and telephone service disappeared? Your electricity from the grid? Do you use an elevator regularly? Your water supply? Heating energy (such as natural gas)? What if the local hospital had its data network compromised during a local outbreak?

Those are all increasingly targets of cyberattacks, including ransomware. Like protecting those around you from COVID-19 by practising good hygiene, protecting your devices from cyberattacks of all kinds protects all of us.

For a visual representation of the level of sophisticated and organized criminal cyber activity, have a look at https://horizon.netscout.com/.

If your computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or other 'smart' devices are connected to the Internet, even intermittently, make sure you have them secured. Use real passwords. Scan them for viruses and malware occasionally.

If you find the battery life on your smartphone, laptop or tablet is suddenly shorter and the device is often warm to the touch, scan it for malware which could be using up compute cycles and energy from the battery.

Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) are the favoured currency of cyber criminals. Creating this currency uses a lot of electricity. That energy is creating increased demand for electricity, pushing up prices for all of us and causing us to use fossil fuels unnecessarily.

Bitcoin consumes more energy than Switzerland, according to new estimate

Bitcoin using more electricity per transaction than a British household in two months https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2020/03/01/bitcoin-using-electricity-per-transaction-british-household/

Global power consumption by Bitcoin mining tops 7 GW, hashrates at 120 EH/s https://www.neowin.net/news/global-power-consumption-by-bitcoin-mining-tops-7-gw-hashrates-at-120-ehs/
Consider the level of compute power China is devoting to Bitcoin mining, and intuitively it suggests that China's continued use of coal-fired electrical generation could be connected.

Bitcoin Miner Is Scoring 700% Profits Selling Energy to Grid https://finance.yahoo.com/news/bitcoin-miner-scoring-700-profits-110010796.html
A truly 'smart' grid would use this power at peak times as Layer 1 is doing, but buy lower-cost electricity at off peak times to charge up storage and electric vehicles to improve their overall return on investment.

How Long It Would Take A Hacker To Guess Your Password, Visualized https://digg.com/2020/password-difficulty-hacking

Password Fatigue
Yesterday I got a teaser from Firefox about using their password manager. It stated the average computer user has 130 different accounts and online resources using a password for at least part of their protection. Which is presumably why people re-use passwords across their various accounts. (Personally, I have more than 130. I know because I keep a list of user accounts and passwords off-line. Yes, it's tedious to keep up to date, especially as I do change many of those passwords on a rotation.)

Royal Bank among the top victims of cybersquatting, says report https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/royal-bank-among-the-top-victims-of-cybersquatting-says-report/435254

Brookfield Residential admits suffering a data security incident https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/brookfield-admits-residential-unit-suffered-a-data-security-incident/434947

;-) Do not use 'incorrect' as you computer password, even if your
     computer tells you: "Your password is incorrect".

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

September 1, 2020


Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Monday, Canada reported 1,008 new COVID-19 cases. Even allowing for the weekend effect, that's a startling jump in new cases which have been grinding along around 400 per day since June. Consider that my critical condition for re-opening schools was control of community spread. Clearly, we still don't have a handle on that from Quebec to BC, but the schools are re-opening anyway, without solid plans or stated threshold metrics to trigger shutdowns or contingency plans. Why isn't eliminating COVID-19 an option on the menu?
Forget flattening the curve—what about eliminating COVID-19 entirely?

Let's be blunt. If you live in Canada and you get the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there is more than 7 in 100 chance it will kill you. If you get the virus, based on rate of spread numbers, it is likely that you will spread it to at least one more person, giving them the same 7 in 100 chance of dying from COVID-19.

For the remaining 93 out of 100, recovering from a COVID-19 illness can take months, and you may end up with new long-term health issues related to multiple organs which can be affected by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

We now have evidence that being infected once does not confer immunity against being infected again by a different strain of the virus, and that antibodies don't seem to last more than a few weeks or months.

Schools Re-opening

If it's safe enough for teachers to be in classrooms, why isn't the Ontario Legislature requiring full sittings of all the elected MPPs for 5 hours a day, Monday to Friday? Surely, it's time for Ontario's elected representatives to get back to work full-time and figure out how to restore normalcy to the legislative and governing process, and end governing under emergency powers.

Ottawa Public Health going 'school-by-school' to check on COVID-19 set-up: Dr. Etches

Teachers' unions to file labour board complaint over Ontario's school reopening plan

The tone seems to be dramatically different in the NWT.
'It's great to see their faces': Relief, excitement for N.W.T. teachers returning to school
Note: teachers are required to wear face-shields whenever they are inside the school building, and NWT has community spread under control before re-opening their schools.

U.S. coronavirus cases near 6 million as Midwest, schools face outbreaks

Campus Contagion
"Take a look at the places where the coronavirus is spreading fastest in the U.S. relative to population, and you’ll see that many have something worrisome in common: Nearly half of the top 20 metropolitan areas where new cases per capita rose the most over the past two weeks are college towns, home to the reopened campuses of large public universities." https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/world/coronavirus-covid.html

Monitoring the Coronavirus Outbreak in Metro Areas Across the U.S. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/23/upshot/five-ways-to-monitor-coronavirus-outbreak-us.html

This article suggests that physical distancing guidelines are not sufficient under a range of typical circumstances. Contemplate this information in the context of typical school activities.
Current Physical Distancing Measures Are Based on 'Outdated Science', Say Researchers

;-) My wife says I have 2 faults.
     I don't listen, and something else ...

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.

For earlier entries, see earlier blog file.
For the current blog, see the Econogics Blog.

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