COVID-19: Part 49

November 20, 2020 4:08 pm
  • Quarantine Day 249
  • Livermore cases: 1,184
  • Alameda County cases: 26,164; deaths: 490
  • U.S. cases: 11,650,000+; deaths: 251,000+

California moved most of its counties (including Alameda) back to the purple (strictest) tier this week and a 10pm-5am curfew goes into effect starting tomorrow night. This despite our cases-in-last-7-days-per-100k only increasing to 24 (up from 17). The goal, of course, is to stay ahead of the exponential curve because if you react once it starts spiking you're already too late.

Heather and Corinne had just restarted in-person gymnastics classes 3 weeks ago. Heather got to go twice, Corinne went once (she had a badly skinned knee the first week), and now they're shut down again. So the girls are pretty bummed out about that.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montana, and Utah are all above 100 cases-in-last-7-days-per-100k.

The CDC recorded 2,045 deaths for yesterday. The highest since April. And as a nation we surpassed 250,000 deaths this week.

We're seeing news reports, again, about states setting up emergency treatment facilities in sports arenas and parking garages. El Paso county in Texas is now using at least 10 refrigerator trucks as temporary morgues while paying prisoners $2/hr to move bodies.

There's been promising news from the vaccine researchers over the past couple of weeks. Some are hopeful that emergency use authorization and administration to the highest-priority populations could happen before the end of the year (this would be front-line medical personnel).

I am quite concerned about what's going to happen to case rates with Thanksgiving less than a week away with already serious surges happening throughout the country. Thanksgiving is historically the busiest travel week of the year and that travel begins today.

Public health departments and medical advisory groups are practically begging people to stay home and not gather in large groups. The CDC issued an advisory statement recommending people to stay home and not travel for Thanksgiving:

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Meanwhile, as the country melts down around us due to lack of any national leadership on the pandemic, Trump continues to deny reality that he lost the election. He's currently attempting to convince Republican-held legislatures in states he lost to instruct their electors in the Electoral College to vote for Trump instead of who the voters in that state voted for. This is just the latest tactic in his so-far completely failed attempt to "prove" that he actually won despite all available evidence.

It has me concerned because apparently more than half of self-identified Republicans believe him. They're convinced that Trump won and will do anything to overturn the actual will of the people. And Trump is fueling this fantasy with a constant fire hose of disinformation. I'm becoming increasingly concerned about what these rabid followers might do come Inauguration Day when Biden is sworn in as president. We've already seen one group arrested in Michigan for plotting to kidnap their governor, seize control of the state-capitol building, and air a week of executions of democratically elected officials. This was their plan that they were actively pursuing. They think they're patriots and the disinformation campaigns they've glued themselves to convince them they're right.

When I was taking the graduate course on terrorism and counter-terrorism at Texas A&M in 2014 I had not thought that just a few years later we'd need to adapt the principles of radicalization intervention to be applied to right-wing terrorist groups within the United States. But here we are and it won't actually happen so long as the guy in charge of implementing such an intervention is instead actively fueling the radicalization efforts.

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I discovered that I'm probably not at fault for the broken fan blade mentioned in my previous post. I watched another one fall off the fan yesterday with nothing happening to it. I then inspected the remaining blades and found that all of them had been cracked in the same way due to improper installation and were all just waiting to fail.

I then inspected the 2nd fan we had installed and found those blades had also been incorrectly installed, however in a different way that did not damage them. We'll see what the company I paid to install them has to say about it. I'm hoping they are appropriately embarrassed and offer at least a partial refund for the work.

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Our tree is a really nice orange this year. Though it looks more brown in the picture.

COVID-19: Part 48

November 13, 2020 3:12 pm
  • Quarantine Day 242
  • Livermore cases: 1,110
  • Alameda Count cases: 24,732; deaths: 479
  • U.S. cases: 10,508,000+; deaths: 242,000+

California, overall, is doing really well right now. Almost like several months of actual leadership with clear plans and requirements is worth something. Looking at the CDC metric of "cases in the past 7 days per 100k" puts California at 12th in the nation at 17 (out of 60 jurisdictions reported). The other end of that chart is North Dakota at 169, South Dakota at 155, and Iowa at 135. The nationwide rate is 41.

Skipping the weekends (which always have lower deaths reported due to reporting mechanisms) we've been hitting over 1,000 deaths per day across the country for almost two weeks now--trending upwards.

Case rates are ticking up here too. Exactly as the medical professionals tried to warn everyone--with colder weather the virus is surging.

Alameda County issued recommendations on holiday gatherings this week (which overall is, "please don't, but we know you'll ignore that, so please do these things instead"). I liked this section:

Avoid singing, chanting, and shouting. If you cannot avoid these activities, keep your face covering on, your volume low, and at least a 6-foot distance from others. More distance and being outdoors are safer.

I'm amused by the idea of being unable to avoid a situation involving singing, chanting, or shouting.

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It started getting colder around here a few weeks ago which was when we discovered our heat didn't work. The furnace's control board needed to be replaced as it was no longer sending power to the gas regulator. I ordered the new control board (a non-identical model that superseded about a dozen old models) and spent an evening replacing it myself which went well. Not too bad if you have enough room to put the new board next to the old board and then one-by-one check the label where each wire is connected and match it up on the new board. So that was a nice way to save a few hundred dollars.

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Last week we finally got our kitchen lights replaced (just a short 7 or 8 months we've been without lighting in the kitchen). I don't have any pictures yet because I still have work to do painting the ceiling. We also had two new ceiling fans installed. And six days later I broke one of them by swinging the comforter on our bed up to put it on and it caught the edge of a blade and snapped it off. So that was awesome. The manufacturer is taking pity on me and is sending replacement blades.

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Our solar install is finally progressing as well. The service panel was replaced this week in order to get a panel with a larger bus bar that can carry the load of batteries, solar, and (at some future point in time) an electric vehicle charger. Our solar installation date is now supposed to be Dec 17. So just in time for the solstice and the least amount of sun all year.

Halloween 2020

November 10, 2020 8:00 pm

Halloween was on Saturday this year, which was a good thing because we didn't get around to carving our Pumpkins until the day of. Heather designed a pumpkin to represent the flag of the Fur and Freedom Fighters (a group from the book series she's been reading, "Redwall"), which is a spear breaking a chain. Corinne's design is a goofy face, and my design is the Sheikah Slate symbol from the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild video game.

As usual, I did all the pumpkin work myself because everyone else thinks it's gross.

Corinne insisted on being in some of the pumpkin pictures and dragged Jess in too:

The girls wanted to be Elsa and Anna from Frozen 2 this year.

We didn't participate in trick-or-treating this year due to the ongoing pandemic. But instead, we got together with our social-bubble buddies. I made a Halloween trifle of brownies, chocolate cream, orange-dyed Cool Whip, crumbled Oreos, gummy eyeballs, gummy worms, and Reese's Pieces. If you ate around the gummy things (which were really only there for ambiance) it was quite good.

We did leave a bowl of lollipops out on our front step when we left, but it was basically untouched, so it would seem most of the neighborhood was also skipping the trick-or-treating. Which is good. Our county's numbers have been steadily improving for the last couple of months while much of the country has been experiencing full-blown outbreaks that are threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

The kids ran around and played until they were exhausted. And that was Halloween this year. Hopefully next year things will be back to normal.

Heather's Birthday 2020

7:41 pm

With Heather's birthday we've now celebrated the entire family's birthdays for 2020 in quarantine.

Her birthday was a work & school day. Much of the day was spent trying to get Heather to complete her school work so we could move on to fun activities. We eventually got on with things and the requisite treasure hunt was a big hit. This year's hunt involved playing a custom-coded guessing game on the computer, decoding a message encrypted using a substitution cipher, some math word problems, and completing some electronic circuitry.

Birthday dinner was McDonald's cheeseburgers (because what could be better than that?). Then she opened presents before having cake. Corinne thought up and picked out a Toothless stuffed animal (the dragon from "How to Train your Dragon") to give her and Heather is enamored of it. She puts one of her old nightgowns on it at night to keep it warm and it travels with her throughout the house during the day.

This year's cake was a white cake with vanilla-cream filling, chocolate frosting, and decorated with Andes mints. Unfortunately, like last year, she wasn't particularly thrilled with it. So she'll have to pick another new cake next year.

While we were eating cake she seemed a bit down. After some probing she admitted to having been a bit let down by her gifts. She liked them all, but was hoping for some Je-ne-sais-quoi delight that didn't materialize. And I know the feeling. I've had that experience too. It's not that there's some particular thing that you're hoping for (otherwise you could say so and increase your chances). You're just hoping for some unexpected surprise and it doesn't always happen (nor is it always specifically hoped for either). Some language probably has a word for it.

We'll see if we can land a hit at Christmas. I spent some time looking for ideas and think I found something that will fit the bill.

COVID-19: Part 47

October 14, 2020 7:05 pm
  • Quarantine Day 212
  • Livermore cases: 968
  • Alameda Count cases: 21,597; deaths: 433
  • U.S. cases: 7,835,000+; deaths: 215,000+

This post is just to celebrate Alameda County moving from red to orange on the State's reopening plan (purple, red, orange, yellow)! I'm pessimistic that we're going to see a reversal in that trend as we go through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. But at least for the moment we're continuing to move in the right direction (even while large swaths of the country are moving the wrong direction).