My CORONAVirus Experience

Well, it happened. I contracted Winnie the Flu. This is my experience with it.

Day 1

Late in the afternoon I had some chest congestion and coughing. Rather mild. I just thought it was my allergies acting up (and I’m allergic to a lot of stuff–of the 35 thing the allergist tested me for, I was allergic to 26 of them). Went home after work and took some decongestant and checked my temperature: 97.5 F (typical for me)

Day 2

Woke up with the same congestion and coughing. Checked temperature. Typical again, about 97.3 F. The cough and congestion was a bit worse than it was before and my morning antihistamine (Cetirizine) didn’t seem to change the result. I texted my boss, describing the systems and asked him how he wanted me to proceed.

I need to explain the issue with my boss a bit. His brother in law is also our sales/marketing guy. And that brother in law, who works from home, is also the primary caregiver for his 80+ year old father. The close connection to someone who is particularly at risk is why my boss tends to be extra careful about infection.

My boss said to get tested, get a negative result before returning to work. I agreed. I checked local places that do testing and was able to find a CVS “Minute Clinic” that did the “rapid result” testing, but I would have to wait two days. That would still get me faster results than the lab testing that I might get sooner.

Day 3

I was actually feeling better this day. The cough was largely gone. I figured that it was probably a false alarm and I’d sail through the testing with flying colors.

Day 4

Started the day feeling about the same as Day 3. Went and did the test. About an hour later I got the results back: Positive for infection with Winnie the Flu. I still wasn’t feeling bad but reported the result back to my boss: 14 day quarantine.

Later that evening, the coughing got pretty bad. It was a “productive” cough, bringing up a lot of phlegm. I started taking an expectorant in addition to my other medications. The coughing irritated my throat making it rather sore.

Still no fever although temperature just slightly elevated over “normal” for me: about 98.9 F.

Day 5

More coughing up phlegm and more throat irritation. My throat hurt. I mean it really hurt. I spent much of the day in bed. Again, no fever. My temperature was back down to my normal 97.5 F.

Day 6

The throat pain and coughing peaked here. I was truly miserable. Again, spent most of the day in bed. Food supplies were running low so I had to go to the store. Used “curbside pickup” and barely cracked the window, while also wearing a mask, to tell the person bringing out the groceries to put them in the trunk. Remote release of the trunk from inside the car so I could do my shopping without breaking quarantine.

I love living in the 21st century.

Temperature was, again, was a normal 97.5 F.

Day 7

The coughing eased up quite a bit. The throat pain receded quite a bit although it was still sore. Temperature 97.3 F.

Day 8

Coughing eased up still further. The throat pain was almost entirely gone. We were back down to what I would expect as normal from my allergies. Temperature 97.5 F.

Days 9-13

Much the same over this. Maybe a slight decrease in the coughing but, if so, it happened slowly enough that it was hard to say for sure. No more throat pain. Temperature ranged from 97.3 to 97.7 F (again, typical range for me).

Day 14

Although it had been only 12 days since I got the test results back, it was 14 since I first had symptoms. All the Minute Clinics with rapid response near me were full up for this and the next two days. I went into my PCP for a test. It’s a lab test with “3-5 day” response times. Best I could do.

My “symptoms” were still consistent with my normal allergies and temperature was 97.5 F again.

Day 15

No change.

Day 16

Got the results back from my PPC. Unfortunately, I was still positive. They recommended an additional 7 days of quarantine. I checked the CVS Minute Clinics and found that they had a slot open in two days.

Temperature 97.3 F.

Day 17

No change. Temperature 97.3 F.

Day 18

Test appointment at Minute Clinic. I measured my temperature at 97.5 F. They measured it at 97.9 F. Got the results very fast. They literally called me before I finished the drive home. (Don’t worry: hands free speaker phone.) Negative. I was now COVID free.

And that was my experience with catching and surviving Winnie the Flu.

Introversion: Inate or Learned Behavior?

I’ve been quarantined (thank you Winnie the Flu) for the last two weeks and that got me thinking.

I am an introvert…I think. However, I’ve been doing those “My Life” posts and that got me wondering about something. How much is being an introvert an innate characteristic and how much is learned behavior. Allow me to explain.

I have not been diagnosed as being Autism Spectrum. I suspect I am, but have never been formally diagnosed. At this point in my life, I don’t see that there would be any value to a formal diagnosis. However, whether I’m on the spectrum or not, one characteristic typical of autistics I do have, and that’s difficulty/inability to recognizing and responding appropriately to social cues. The hints and “tells” that guide neurotypical people in their interactions with each other are a complete mystery to me. This is a problem both in recognizing the cues in others and giving off cues to others. As one example, I have no idea where the line is between “playful flirtation” and “being creepy.” (Now, I know folk who don’t get that difference and consistently come across as creepers–maybe; it’s possible they really are creepers and are just using “autism” as an excuse. However, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt since I have the same problem although my reaction is usually to just not do either since I have difficulty telling them apart.)

So, take a young person with difficulties with social cues and what happens? They misread cues and mispresent them all. the. time. When they misread cues, they respond inappropriately. And kids, being kids, can be savage in their “punishment” of misread cues.

When the young person mispresents cues, they evoke responses quite different from what they were hoping for. Sure, even folk who are good at social cues frequently don’t get the response they want but they have several advantages. One is that they recognize that things aren’t going as hoped early–reading the cues the others are sending in response–and can “abort” before things get out of hand. Other times, they do get the response they were hoping for. For the person who doesn’t get social cues it never works out because even if the person were responsive to the message they think they’re sending, they’re not actually sending that message.

This combination ends up making social interaction almost universally a negative experience. A person who might enjoy and thrive on social interaction if they just understood the rules well enough to have internalized them (i.e. if they were “neurotypical”) learns instead that social interaction is a chore and downright painful. Thus you get anxiety any time they are forced into social situations because they are minefields where any step they take can blow up in their faces.

The person can be miserable being alone but still avoids others because the anxiety and the near inevitable disasters that social interaction creates for them is worse. Alone is safe. It may not be “good”, but it is “safe.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are certainly people that thrive in “alone time.” These are the natural introverts. But I do wonder how many people identify as introverts who aren’t actually introverts. It’s just their difficulties dealing with the vast majority of people create sufficient anxiety such that “alone” is better.

So, as I have been sitting here going slowly stir-crazy in enforced isolation, denied even my few “safe” social interactions (skating class and, yes, work) and have to wonder, am I really as introverted as I’ve always thought I was or is that just inability to get social cues, leading to social anxiety serving the same function?

“Velocity of Money” and “the 1%”

So there was this on the Book of Faces:

Oh, Lordy. Where to begin? Idiots R Us.

First, the “economic value” was not produced by the money. The money was just a piece of paper with printing on it. It’s only value is as a medium of exchange. It’s the folk producing the goods and services for which the money is exchanged that produce economic value. (Economists call the sum total of goods and services produced in a society the economic output of that society–not the money, but the goods and services.) The first person traded skills and labor for that $10. The skills and labor were the economic value, not the $10. The $10 was just a “scorekeeping” method to assign a value to the skills and labor provided. He then used that $10 to buy lunch. The production of that lunch was the economic value, not the $10 used to buy it. It’s just a scorekeeping instead. The taxi ride, saving the lunch vendor the time and effort of walking home (and thus freeing up time and effort for other things, which could range from playing with his cat when he gets home to preparing for the next day’s lunch sales to working later to make more sales before having to head for home) was the economic value, not the $10 used to pay the taxi. Scorekeeping again. The babysitter, watching the children so that the taxi driver can actually be out hustling fares is the economic value there, not the $10. (Once again, it’s simply scorekeeping.) And providing the groceries the babysitter buys are the economic value there, not the $10 used to buy them.

That $10 is of no value itself. It’s simply a way to keep track of how much of the economic value each individual is exchanging for something else of economic value to them. The common medium of exchange makes those transactions easier–and that has a value–but it’s the transactions, the goods and services exchanged, that provide the real economic value, not the particular piece of paper or plastic that facilitates those exchanges.

Okay, next that “hoarding” thing. What? Do you think that Bill Gates (Net worth right around $128 billion) has an Olympic sized swimming pool filled with Hundred dollar bills? Because, economically speaking, that’s what “hording” would mean.

This would be the “Scrooge McDuck” school of economics. (Actually not: The Disney comic is more economically literate than this concept.)

The reality, though, is that Gates has no such pool (nor does Bezos, nor Musk, or Trump, nor any rich “one percenter”). Instead what they have is the value of various businesses and investments that they own. Their wealth is in terms of ownership of businesses that employ people, that provide goods and services, and, thus, are part of that “Velocity of money”.

Oh, sure, some of that wealth (although a smaller fraction than you might recognize) in also in “stuff” they own: that vacation home that people were paid to build, that other people are paid to maintain, on lawns that people are paid to take care of, using utilities that people are paid to provide and so on. And those people invest that money or spend it on other things, so again, continue the “velocity of money” described in the graphic.

You see, in that “someone spends $10” thing, the person who spent the $10, now has $10 worth of “stuff” that he bought with that $10. The principle doesn’t change if it’s a $10 package of socks or a $10 million private jet.
“But what about those cash reserves they keep?” You might ask. Well, where do they keep that cash reserve? Do they keep it in a bank? What do you think happens to money in a bank? Keeping that money, providing facilities for customers to use and security to keep folk from just walking off with the money is not free. Where do you think that comes from? And since banks don’t provide that out of the goodness of their hearts, they’ve got to be making their own money somehow. So how do they do so?

I won’t keep you in suspense. They make their money by loaning out a significant portion of the money deposited within them at interest. The interest on those loans is how they make their profit. They want to loan money. The more money they loan–provided they can charge an interest rate that covers both their own costs, the risk of defaults, and the difference between future value and present value–the more money they make. Billionaire drops a hundred thousand into an account? That’s something like $90 thousand available to loan to others (they have to keep a fraction as a reserve to be able to cover withdrawals). That’s money back in circulation, part of that “velocity of money.”

So, no, the buck doesn’t “stop with the 1%”. That’s nonsense invented by people like Michael Moore who actually know better (because they are among the “1%” and know what they do with their money). They just sell the idea to folk who do not understand economics for their own purposes–and their purposes aren’t about making your life better.

But, suppose Bill Gates lost his mind and decided to liquidate all his holdings and fill up that swimming pool with cash ($50 bills, instead of $100’s because if he doesn’t lose at least half the value in a quick liquidation, it will be most surprising) that would make the rest of us poorer right? Hording all that cash that way?

Wrong.

You see, that’s where supply and demand and competition come into play. People are out there providing goods and services. They are competing for your dollars (and my dollars and everyone else’s dollars). If Bill Gates takes his billions out of circulation that means there’s less money out there. Those goods and services are competing over fewer dollars. The result is that the price of goods and services has to come down.

Now, there’ll be some disruption because some will come down more than others, some faster than others. Some folk will not recognize the changed economic situation and try to keep their prices at the “pre-Gates-Decided-to-Hoard-Cash” level and so their goods and services will not sell because the money is being used to buy other things. But the end result is that the prices of things come down to match the reduced money supply. Even the ones who try to maintain pre-Gates-Decided-to-Hoard-Cash prices can’t do that forever. Not making sales means their own income is down and they end up eventually going out of business and their goods sold at auction.

The end result is that the money that people retain becomes more valuable in terms of the goods and services it will buy.

This, BTW, is why complaints about foreign businesses and governments “taking money out of circulation in the US” is not the problem people think it is: it simply means that the money remaining in circulation is more valuable in the local economy.

Now, this kind of deflation has its own problems, and I talk about that elsewhere, but it’s not the kind of problems being presumed by the economic illiterates in that graphic.

But it’s so much easier for entirely too many to mindlessly follow the Gospel of Marx which can be summed up as “hate the one who has more than you do.”

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause.

When I explained “Santa” to my daughter (as she was getting too old to buy into the guy in the red suit who lived at the North Pole) I explained that Santa was real, but not a guy in a red suit.  “Santa” is that part of the human heart that gives for no other reason than to bring someone else joy.  By giving her presents as “Santa” her enjoyment of them was the sole reward we would get.  Not even “thanks” as a reward.  She didn’t know they were from us so she couldn’t thank us for them.  Her enjoyment of the presents was the sole reward.  I went to considerable effort to make sure she couldn’t trace them back to me–using different wrapping paper kept stashed at work so it would be different from our own and having a co-worker sign the tags on the presents so she wouldn’t recognize my handwriting.

Worked too, she came in to get presents once and pointed at some of them saying “those must be from Santa!” because of the different paper.

So, yes, Santa is real.  He’s the enjoyment I got from seeing my daughter’s pleasure and excitement on seeing and opening presents that she did not know were from me.

There’s a meme on the Book of Faces on that theme that’s been going around but, really, I used this explanation years before I ever encountered it.

And for those who still do not believe in Santa Clause, may I present the United States Marine Corps Reserve:

Fisking “You Might be a Socialist”

If you believe this “meme” is meaningful, you might be an idiot.
Not everything government does is socialism. Socialism has a meaning and it’s not just “anything funded with tax dollars”. It’s when the means of production are centrally controlled and managed.

Second, just because something has been imposed by law and one, not wanting to spend time in jail, chooses to make the best of it, does not mean that one is a socialist any more than obeying the king’s edicts for fear of his armed men makes one a monarchist or laboring in the Gulag makes one a communist.
Then, there’s the idea that if one likes this particular thing that you call “socialist”, or which even might be socialist (I’ll get to that in a minute), that one must, therefore, accept anything and everything that might be socialism. The poison, as they say, is in the dose. There’s a concept called “hormesis” where things that are normally quite toxic can, in small doses be beneficial. Most medicines, indeed, are metabolic poisons, but in carefully controlled doses they can be used to improve ones health.

On the flip side, things that are generally considered beneficial can become toxic at high doses. Too much water, drunk in too short a period of time, can kill you by disrupting the body’s electrolyte balance. Too much oxygen (as at high pressures) kills. Even something as innocuous and relatively inert as nitrogen can cause narcotic effects and death.

So, even if these things were socialism, and were good things on balance, that does not mean that the next thing would also be good.

Public Roads.

One can make the argument that roads, by enabling the transport of raw materials and products, and enabling commerce in general, are a means of production making central control of them socialistic. Point here. However, if there weren’t public road construction do you really think that businesses would be completely stymied at the prospect of getting raw materials for themselves and their products to market? That the road has value also means that people would be willing to pay for it. Now, one might argue that there would be fewer roads without the public funding of them because of the high external benefits–people other than the specific businesses wanting a road to get access to markets and suppliers can also use it–i.e. people other than those party to the specific transaction benefit from it. There are ways to deal with that, use fees either per trip or subscriber (much easier today with things like the various electronic toll paying gadgets people can mount in their cars). But as things stand now, the roads are there. Indeed, it’s very hard to get to anywhere I want to go–work, shopping, various activities, without using them. So, whether I think the roads should have been funded with public taxes rather than from some private mechanism is not up to me. Others have made that decision and I’m stuck with it. But it doesn’t make me a socialist to make the best of a situation that others have created for me.

Social security.

By the strict definition, Social Security is not socialist. If we go by a somewhat extended definition to include wealth transfer from those producing to those not producing, then it is. However, once again, it’s the law. That law was passed without my consent. I had no say in it. I have no say in its continued existence. So, once again, making the best of a situation that was created without my consent does not make me a socialist.

Public Libraries.

Now this one is simply not socialist. It’s kind of reaching to consider libraries, particularly libraries with large fiction sections to be “means of production.” But even if we go with that, you might consider that historically a lot of private individuals have founded and funded libraries open to the public. Does the name Andrew Carnegie ring any bells? We would have libraries even without public funding. But as things stand now, once again, the decision was made without my consent. So here we are. I didn’t make that choice. That choice was made for me. And once again it doesn’t make me a socialist to make the best of a situation that was created by others.

Public School.

You mean publicly funded political indoctrination centers, because that’s what they’ve become–quite effectively if you think this meme of your is actually meaningful. And once again, I am required to send my children to school. And I’m being forced to pay for those public schools even if I choose to send my children to another school, or to teach them at home. And maybe I would be better able to afford private school, and even kicking into charities to help kids whose parents cannot, if the government weren’t taking half of my paycheck for a host of programs nobody either wants nor needs. But the government is taking that money and, so, I can’t afford to pay for both. So I’m left with public school…that decision having been taken out of my hands by others, which does not make me a socialist.

Summary


So, no, doing these things does not make one a socialist. Even if they are socialist, which is questionable, there is a difference between making the best of the situation you find yourself in and actually approving of that situation.

It’s like you are sitting at the card table and the game is Texas Hold ‘Em. You might prefer Five Card Draw, but you can’t play by those rules, not when the rules in front of you are Texas Hold ‘Em. You play the hand you’re dealt, by the rules on the table. You may try to convince the other players to switch to Five Card Draw, but so long as they continue to insist on Texas Hold ‘Em, you play Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s the only game in town (or other games are worse) and sitting out entirely is simply not an option (and thus it’s not a perfect metaphor).

Sucks, but there you are.

In the Spirit of the Season: An Annual Tradition

Yuletide-full

An annual tradition:

If you’re an Atheist or Agnostic who doesn’t like “Merry Christmas.”
If you’re a Christian who doesn’t like “Happy Holidays.”
If you’re a Jew who doesn’t like “Blessed be.”
If you’re a Wiccan who doesn’t like “God Be with you.”
If you’re a Muslim who doesn’t like “Gud Yule” or “May Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.”

I have one thing to say to you: Grow. Up. Take these things in the spirit they are offered, one of well wishing, and leave it at that. And on that note, may I wish you a very merry Christmas and may Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.

This Sikh gets it:

https://fb.watch/25SBOeNd4D/

Gud Yule, everyone.

Precession of the Equinoxes.

I’ve been thinking a bit about precession of the Equinoxes. Since the Earth is slightly oblate due to rotation and the axis is tilted relative to the plane of the elliptic, solar tidal forces exerts a “torque” on it that causes it to precess, like the wobbling of a top that’s a bit off center. It works out that the “wobble” takes 25,772 years to make one complete circuit. Now, as it wobbles, the dates on which the equinoxes and solstices occur will change. As it stands now, the Northern Hemisphere is angled toward the sun in June and away from it in December (why we have Summer and Winter. In 12886 years, the Northern Hemisphere will be angled toward the sun in December and away from it in June, giving us winter in June and Summer in December.

The year, per the Gregorian Calendar is 365.2425 days long. Divide the period of precession with the length of the year and you have that the equinoxes/solstices will shift 1 day for every 70.56 years. Now, I’m not clear on which direction it changes but I wonder, if it changes toward “earlier” then, it’s been 438 years since the Gregorian Calendar was first created. That’s enough to shift the Winter Solstice 6.2 days. This leads me to wonder if perhaps Christmas was originally intended to occur on the Solstice and they missed by couple days (early) and the current date of the Solstice is the result of precession of the Equinoxes.

Edit: On reflection, I think the Gregorian calendar is synced to the solstices (although unlike some historic calendars, they don’t start the year on the Solstice, the length of the year is based on solstice to solstice, rather than the Earth’s position in its orbit around the sun per se). Which would explain why 200 years ago it was still December 21st. The switch from the solstice being on December 10 (give or take a day) to December 21st (ditto) was in 1752, the same year the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the colonies that would become the United States.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am a geek.

Goth on Ice: Stand Tall

I have long had a particular posture issue, in particular a certain forward lean when walking. As I have discussed before, I have speculations as to why but I don’t really know. I just do. Back in Air Force basic training this caused issues. Guy behind me when we were marching in formation noted that my shoulders were in perfect line with those on either side of me but my feet were back far enough to cause him trouble.

I’ve been working on that, particularly since it’s a definite fault when it comes to ice skating. Even so, you can get away with it for a while in some of the basics. But as you advance in learning techniques you soon reach a point where it just doesn’t work. And by the time you start learning spins, even beginning two-foot spins, that postural flaw makes them undoable as we see here in one of my early efforts:

So, I’ve been working expressly on posture. When doing just general skating around the rink, I’d glance over at my reflection in the glass and see how straight I’m standing, try to adjust, and then continue. The main problem I’ve found is that when I tell myself to “straighten up” my body interprets that as “lean back”. This gets my weight too far back on the skates and I fall over backward–which is a particularly painful direction to fall on the ice.

What I’ve found working better is to think not of “shoulders back” but “head up” and not just looking up (although that’s important too) but stretching my head up toward the ceiling. The body follows along and I get a much more upright posture. You can see that I’ve made progress in this collection from this past weekend’s work:

And going back to two-foot spins, you can see here when I stay straight, I do better. When I bend at the waist, I lose it:

So, Stand tall…and don’t fall.

Goth on Ice: You Spin me Right Round, Baby

One of the two techniques I need to learn to complete “Adult 5” in the Learn to Skate USA progression is beginning two-foot spin. We worked on that in class a bit some time ago but I never really did anything with it in my practice time. Too busy working on other things. Well, this afternoon (November 14, 2020) I spent some time working on it.

First I tried turning to the left. Being right handed (mostly) that’s supposed to be my “natural” direction. That didn’t work well, so I tried to the right. That worked better. I found the same thing when working pivots some time back as well. I recorded the practice session:

If I counted correctly, I think my best in that set was 2 1/2 revolutions. If you can listen carefully, you can hear me say at the end of one spin “eyes open.” I had closed my eyes during the spin, which, of course, is a mistake. The main, persistent mistake I made though that is forward body lean. Not keeping my body straight throws off my balance and there we are.

It’s a perennial problem I have with all my skating. You can see it as well in today’s work with forward consecutive edges.

There was a bit of a false start there as a kid on hockey skates cut across my path. I did forward outside edges down (away from the camera) and forward inside edges back. I’ve done better than this session, but overall it is improving. But, as you can see, the forward lean is still an issue.

What the two-foot spin is supposed to look like:

What the forward consecutive edges are supposed to look like:

So, still a lot of work to do yet.