Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Wondering about Coronavirus?

Probably not, but the company I work for makes viral antigens with various applications. Here's my friend and colleague Andy Lane talking about our coronavirus antigens in a podcast:

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Please don't keep sending me

Please don't keep sending me those 'uplifting' videos that you found on social media, the bits of scripture picked because they say nice things, or the recordings of Christian exhortation.

We're all different. I just don't want all this stuff.

Perhaps it's real for you?

Thinking back to the periods when I've led worship teams, people would often send me links to songs that were utterly unsuitable for a congregation to sing, or would wonder if we could do a certain song 'like this' which would involve a large band with a horn section and carefully crafted parts - we would have a guitar or 2 and a keyboard if we were 'lucky'.

Yours in finest curmudgeonly style. ;-)

Monday, 23 March 2020

Well that's a change.

  • From tonight, people in Britain will be allowed to leave their homes for only “very limited purposes” - shopping for basic necessities; for one form of exercise a day; for any medical need; and to travel to and from work when “absolutely necessary”
  • People are warned not to meet friends or family members who they do not live with
  • Shopping is only permitted for essentials like food and medicine, and people are advised to do it “as little as you can”
  • Police have powers to enforce the rules, including through fines and dispersing gatherings
  • All shops selling non-essential goods, such as clothing and electronic stores, are ordered to close
  • Libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship are to close
  • All gatherings of more than two people in public - excluding people you live with - are banned
  • All social events, including weddings and baptisms are banned
  • Funerals are not included in the new restrictions
  • Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed
  • Restrictions “under constant review” and will be checked again in three weeks. They will be relaxed “if the evidence shows we are able to”

Just a quick reminder that Corona isn't the only type of virus out there.

And thieves & crooks also see opportunities when the rest of us are inconvenienced.  If you receive an email purporting to come from WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, do not open it. Especially do not open any attachments included with it.

Stay safe, stay away from non-immediate family and keep your bodies and computers healthy, mkay?

Friday, 20 March 2020

Perhaps not so funny

I've just seen a meme in a 'funnies' thread that said something along the lines of "Anti-vaxxers - welcome to the world you wanted".

I would ask if this experience is likely to change opinions about vaccination, but human nature being what it is, that's extremely unlikely.

As if you've not read or heard enough about Corona virus already.

Some of the more interesting links I've come across in the last couple of days:

A nature article suggesting covert (asymptomatic) infections are probably quite common and seeding new outbreaks:

The work of Imperial College, London, that helped changed the UK government's strategy from voluntary social distancing to closing non-essential industry and business:

Potential therapeutics for CV infection:

A short paper on some vaccine development work in the Jenner Institute, Oxford: 

The search for a vaccine and global competition: 

Not in the least exhaustive, but if that's what you want then google is your friend. ;-)

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

I had forgotten the other side of serious exercise

And that is the day-after low that can sometimes come along.

Not helped by the poo that comes from Corona virus affecting people around me, making them miserable, unsettled and grumpy.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Just managed to run 5.4K

It was slow at around 37 min, but I'm going to make sure my body is in the best condition it can be for when Corona virus arrives. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

Hold my beer

OK, I confess to stealing the above meme image.

Today is a slightly sad day for the UK. The lass on the right has proved once again that American divorcees are a danger to British royalty, and as night follows day, so trouble follows them into union.

Unfair? Possibly.

I'm sad about this personally, having watched what feels like a train-wreck take place with two people who are clearly unhappy, yet not knowing either how to handle things well, nor being willing to seek advice from those who might have helped them.

I'm sad too, because this has broken the social contract between the royals and the British public: if 'we' are the subjects, then they belong to 'us' too. From some perspectives it looks like they're simply born into a position in which they are fabulously wealthy, but with that wealth comes belonging and responsibility and a set of duties that can't be denied. By running away from all that, H&M have also rejected the people they were supposed to have a duty towards, and no-one likes to feel rejected.

For them, coronavirus couldn't have come at a better time, because right now, no-one really gives a wet slap what they're doing or where they've gone, and if they're lucky no-one will remember or care much about them for many months, by which time the feelings of loss will have faded.

I hope this doesn't rebound negatively on the rest of the royal family. While I'm far from an ardent royalist the royal family, and especially the present queen, have given the UK something special, different from so many other countries. Beware the dis-united republic of Great Britain.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

There's a certain irony

When the UK's minister for health tests positive for Coronavirus.

It's also an interestingly challenging time for societies across the globe, to see how their elected or non-elected politicians handle this particular crisis, and to see the benefits or disadvantages of private vs publicly controlled healthcare systems.

As Christians the response we should make to such a situation may depend on our own situations. Traditionally this is a group who have shunned personal safety in order to serve others, eventually often at considerable personal cost. Yet I seem to know a number whose health is likely to make them rapid victims, likely dead, and as such causing far more trouble than if they simply self-isolated for the next 8 weeks. Martyrdom is only useful if there's a really good reason for being a martyr.

What's going to happen? No-one really knows.

I know that's not news, but I've recently come across someone in the healthcare sector declaiming 'thus and so' about things in a manner that wasn't necessarily correct or particularly helpful - part of the problem rather than part of the answer. We probably won't have full, useful answers until the outbreak has run its course and real numbers on the actual event have been recorded and analysed, however the following is my take on useful things to know, based on what I'm reading and seeing:

1) There are a lot of asymptomatic/very mild infections - people don't know. I'm basing this on the rapid spread of the virus through populations, and where it's not been possible to track a source of infection for individuals who've tested positive, plus the Korean finding (they tested very extensively) of lots of cases with a relatively low mortality rate.

2) Not everyone clears the virus quickly. There have been a couple of reports of re-infection, but much more likely a test has given a false positive/negative along the way. My expectation is that some individuals continue shedding virus well after the 14 day quarantine period is over.

3) If we all isolated ourselves for a month the virus would likely come back. We need some herd immunity, but a vaccine won't happen for at least another 6 months, probably more, unless someone decided things are so bad that we can waive the usual safety and efficacy testing.

4) People don't/won't isolate themselves, because habits are too hard to break/the advice only applies to others/people just forget.

5) Minimal reports from Africa and India seem to suggest a hot climate is helpful, but I also wonder if we're not hearing about infections from there simply because no-one is testing and there are so many people dying of the usual diseases that a few more aren't even noticed.

6) Warm weather may not make any difference at all, since Tom Hanks & his wife are both now positive, having apparently caught the disease in Australia (assuming they didn't bring it from the US with them - who knows, because no-one really has any idea how foar it's spread in America right now).

So wrap up, stay warm, and keep at least 1M away from everyone else. :p

I hope you're all still here in 6 months.

There's an amusing irony that this afternoon I have a sore throat and a mild cough. However in mitigation, I did spent almost 1 1/2 hours on the telephone with a customer, so that's probably why the throat is sore. Chris has gone to a prayer meeting, while I'm self-isolating at home. As she left I said "I'll try to kill it with whiskey" to which she replied "good idea". :-)

Sometime I need to get another bottle of Stroh 80 - there's nothing else quite like it with honey and lemon to sooth a sore throat.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

How do you know what to do?

This morning I replaced the float valve in my mothers toilet cistern because the old one was faulty, taking around 15min to fill the cistern. This afternoon I replaced the valves in our kitchen mixer tap, because one side had started leaking after about 5 years of use and under the very high mains pressure we have here.

I invited Chris to the kitchen to see what I was doing (just in case, y'know?) when she expressed the title of this post.

To me it all seems obvious, the knowledge of the principles behind how all this works having been acquired so long ago that I can't even really remember how I learned. Some of it definitely came from watching my father, some from trial and error as I tried to do what I knew could be done by someone skilled in the art (and wished my father was there to do it at the time). So it was natural to run my fingertip around the bottom of the handle on the tap, seeking the indentation that would tell me it was held in place with a grub screw. I expected to find isolation valves below the sink on the hot & cold feed to the taps, and they were there just as expected. The original valves came out with a sharp blow from my hand on the handle of the spanner to break the mild corrosion/limescale on the threads, rather than levering away on the spanner & causing additional wear/stress on the tap body. Then everything just screwed back together without trouble, a reverse of disassembly.

Its pleasing and useful to do this stuff - I'm just grateful that it all makes sense and isn't hard to do. I'm sure there's an illustration here about learning in other areas, often seen as us 'knowing' something in such a fundamental way that we assume it must a) be true, b) be self-evident and c) that everyone else should know it too.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

What shall we play?

When my mini was written off I didn't get a chance to recover my property from the car, and it was emptied by a salvage company before being removed by the insurance company.

Hence stuff got missed. Like the CD in the player, the memory stick with many hours of music and stuff I can't recall right now. It was great to get most of the stuff back eventually - I'd quite missed the Pignose G40V amp that has become so much a part of my sound - but I've now got to re-rip and then store a large portion of the music again.

Might as well add some more music too.

Man, this takes hours!

Wish I still had the tools - baked in to an earlier version of Linux I'd guess, probably openSUSE or Sabayon running KDE - that would find the album information & encode that too, because all my tracks are nameless & I have to enter album info myself. :-P

While we're talking about that, I have to say once again how impressed I am at the way the mini's infotainment functioned. Sure the new car has a bigger, brighter touch screen control system, but the mini used a simple menu & joystick control, and I could work through music storage with no more than a quick glance at the screen. This Skoda (and VW & Seat) system works much more like a tablet, meaning touches, swipes and taps are required. In a moving, bouncing vehicle. Where the driver has to watch where they're going.

I KNOW this system is not unusual, and in fact is better in this respect than many others presently available on the market. I just wonder what they were thinking when they put this kind of system together, because it really IS hazardous to find music while driving. Perhaps there's voice control that will work? I've a lot more to explore yet, though TBH I don't really want to learn all the different systems - a little like computers, I want the system to support me rather than me support the system.

Yes, I have suffered modest buyers remorse. Not a lot, but a little. And another countryman would have been cheaper, though having all the same flaws as the previous vehicle.