You Think What!?!

Covid Questions?
Are you Seeing Double, Blindsided, or Enlighted by Hindsight?

Are introverts really enjoying lockdown & all this working from home?

Are some people secretly delighted not to have to travel for work?

Should we continue to support local small businesses if they suck?

One year on, knowing what we now know, would putting up with a hard, one month, 100%, total lockdown really have been so bad last year?

Or would enough people still break the rules, that it wouldn’t work anyway?

Ever get the feeling that we missed a really big opportunity to learn how to handle pandemics better?

What if the next one is far more serious? More deadly?

Would we react differently if the death rates were far higher?

Or if a virus targets our children more severely, rather than the sick & elderly?

Or are we collectively that stupid that it wouldn’t matter? Maybe don’t answer that one! LOL

What about a virus that targets liberals or conservatives? 😜

Which country did the best job containing the pandemic?

Which one is doing best deploying vaccines?

Are the rest of us capable of learning anything from them? Maybe we shouldn’t answer that one either! πŸ™„πŸ˜œπŸ˜

Have you wondered if you’re one of those people susceptible to believing conspiracy theories?

Why don’t we give the real ingredients to the @#&$heads out there making fake vaccines?

Should we look at improving our country’s healthcare system?

Do we only worry about the less well-off countries after we take care of ourselves first?

What are the chances that we all answered all those questions the same way?

Is there anything we can agree on? πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

Stay safe out there all. πŸ™

Be Selfish … Shop Local!

Do you know how to shop your local businesses online?

We’re close to Christmas, in the middle of the pandemic, & it’s Black Friday shopping season. I had already bought all I could think of buying at my local stores so now, it’s time for a little online shopping. Woohoo!

I can’t deny it, I’m a fan of the big e-commerce sites. And I’m sure I’ll do some shopping with them too. However, do you see newly shuttered shops & “For Lease” signs in the local malls these days? Some lights are out & might not be coming back on. Those are our neighbours.

We can shop local for totally selfish reasons too. We’ll all want more choices in the post-pandemic world. If we don’t keep them in business, those choices disappear. Small business people are paying taxes too. And they buy other products that eventually circle back around to keeping those of us still in a job, in a job! So go ahead … be selfish & shop local! 😜

These days, many small business owners are trying to build an online presence. I’ve seen some interviewed on TV & most were able to get up & running, pretty quickly, with Shopify’s platform. That helps them get cheap shipping rates too. All necessary in the modern competitive landscape.

I assumed part of the benefit of using the Shopify platform is the sheer scale & size of that company. As a consumer, I figured it would be an easy online search to find all the local shops who were using Shopify.
Not so. I couldn’t find Shopify businesses & I couldn’t even find out how to find local Shopify sites to buy from. I was mystified. Small business owners need the benefits of Shopify’s size & power of aggregation. But where was that advantage? Surely there was a way to find which local businesses were offering their products through Shopify?

I went directly to Shopify’s site looking for the answer, but it wasn’t jumping off the page there either. I clicked on a support chat button. I’m not sure it was a support button for this kind of question but I got help from a great support person. (Thanks, Alycia!)

Of course, privacy rights prevent them from sharing who is using their platform (duh!) but, as it turns out, there’s an app for that! πŸ€ͺ😁
I’m not kidding, there is an app called “Shop”, by Shopify, that does connect us to local businesses, & more. I downloaded it & had a quick look to see if it could hone in on local businesses & yes, it can.
You can even … wait for it … SHOP with it! πŸ˜‚

I haven’t done any shopping yet, so this isn’t a review of the functionality of the app. I’m just sharing it, in case you might want to try it out, & support your local businesses too.
Or does everyone already know about this? And it’s just me that was in the dark!?!

I’m not in any way connected with Shopify, by the way, just sharing what I found out.

And did you know there are selfish reasons to add food to the food bank boxes at the supermarket exits too? I put a couple of bucks worth of non-perishable food in there & I felt like a million bucks. Where else can you get that kind of return!?! 😜

Take care out there all.

Shopify & Shop are registered Trade Marks of Shopify Inc.

COVID Conundrums

What am I?

I used to think I was a capitalist …

‘Til the government offered subsidies to help stave off layoffs & paycuts!

When those measures were announced, I breathed such a big sigh of relief & I held my hand out. Should I be worried that I’m a (grateful!) socialist now?

Since I’m sucking at weight loss during lockdown, I’m trying to distract myself by learning a little about things I’ve ignored for years. You can’t watch the news these days without wishing you’d studied psychology, sociology, political science, economics, & maybe a little Celtic mysticism! These are soft sciences. That means that you can make a very cogent argument, that is totally meaningless, but nobody can prove you wrong. Right!?!

Very useful in these confusing times.

Over breakfast news this morning, I heard that this is “the first time prices have risen to the negative value”. They were only previously positive in the timeframe being discussed. So what the duck did this mean? Why did the guy not just say the number went down? There is some sophisticated subterfuge being employed here, & it can only be designed to keep the uninitiated outside the pale.

How is it that neoliberalism, in economics parlance, is a faith of those on the right? I thought that anything with the word “liberal” in it was at least three shades pinker than the white centre of the political divide. Are all the meanings reversed when you go from politics to economics? And now that we’re on the colour spectrum, why are Canadian liberals red, American blue? Who is being backward here!?! The conservatives adopting the reverse in both countries, of course. Is it true that the French flag represents the balance between the left and the right? And not the liberty, equality and fraternity thing, because that is just a conspiracy theory pushed by the radical centrists!

Trickle down economics. Didn’t that fade away in the era of Reagan & Thatcher? Now it’s being touted by governments again. I remember my Dad calling it “Sucking Up” economics. Because, he said, they make it look like they’re giving you something … while sticking the vacuum cleaner hose into your pocket!

I’m still sick of politicans sniping at each other. You’d never run a good company this way. It’d be like the materials manager blaming the lack of inventory on the production manager for using all the parts. When the operations manager is asked to intervene, he deflects the blame onto the temporary workers & fires them all, while requesting the human resources people hire more accountants who will recalculate numbers that look better. Without even getting into the challenges of outsourcing & upstream supply chain management, it’d be a total duckfest. So why is it a good idea to try running a country like this? Don’t we all need to be on the same team to succeed? Especially during a crisis.

One real criticism I have of our news media is the lack of real investigative analysis & critique of the COVID responses around the world. The gross data is on TV every dinnertime, but I don’t see too much detail on which countries have the better healthcare systems, for example. This is an amazing opportunity to learn about such things. Digging into those details might educate us, the general public, on some key attributes of our differing approaches & societies. Such data might influence us on how to choose our next politicians. And I’m not presupposing what that data might reveal. It might, I would hope, have an influence on how our governments makes changes for the future. Though it may touch many of us, & our families, COVID-19 has a mortality rate that isn’t threatening for most of us. Despite that, it can’t hurt if we are better prepared, in case an even more virulent & deadly KISSYOURASSGOODBYE-23 virus rolls through a few years down the road.

My biggest conundrum? If we’re all adding to the national debt, who’s loaning us the money? And can’t we just print more to pay it back? Or is there an ink shortage now!?! 😜

Okay, so I’m having a little fun with some of this. On the premise that if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry. But I’m genuinely interested in learning a little more about economics. I would especially like to see some comparative studies on healthcare systems. If you can recommend a source of balanced information in any of these areas, please send it my way. Indeed, I don’t think I know any economists, so if you can introduce me to anyone in the field, I’d welcome the connection.

Let’s hope we can keep most of our jobs & that we can all come back stronger & better from this. Meanwhile, even if you feel it’s not necessary, please help make a fellow human feel a little better & safer … and if you can … wear the damn mask when you are asked! 😷😁

Stay safe out there, all.

COVID-19 Confusion & Dietary Deflection!

I haven’t smoked a cigarette all through the month of April. By quitting, I thought I was playing good COVID-19 defense. I believed that was the right thing to do. Right up until I read the stories about the smokers in China & France. Smokers are doing better than non-smokers! Apparently smokers are less likely to get COVID-19. When they do, they are less likely to develop serious symptoms. Even with serious symptoms, smokers are less likely to wind up in intensive care. I know, I know, smoking kills us in other ways. But still!

In France, the differences between the smoking & non-smoking populations prompted a study with a nicotine patch for COVID-19 patients and for front-line health workers. Just my totally uneducated guess here but I’m betting you actually have to puff on a cigarette or two every day to get the benefits! πŸ€ͺ

One other huge negative to my quitting smoking is that, in lieu of sucking on cigarettes, I’ve continued to stuff all kinds of other stuff into my face! Okay, so it’s stuff like bread, cookies, candy, chips, ice-cream, & a whole host of food-like products that I would normally try to avoid like the plague! Speaking of the plague, let’s get back to the COVID-19 thing!

That was the deflection away from diet & weight-loss right there, did you notice!?! LOL

We’ve all had enough of the social isolation thing by now, right? What happens next? Look, nobody wants to transmit the disease to Grandma. Frankly, I don’t want to go out there & catch the damn thing myself. But we all want to get back out there, sometime soon. Some want out right now! Perhaps their jobs are in jeopardy. Their business might be going under. These are all valid reasons to want things to open up sooner. But the majority of folk still seem more concerned about catching the disease, or of spreading it to someone they love. Their preference is to keep things locked down for longer. Hey, right now, staying home is a very valid position too.

Regardless of our feelings on the matter, I think we’re edging closer to getting back out there. Even the more reluctant of us will likely be thinking this way sometime soon. Why?

Because we’re pretty predictable as a species. Once the burden of frustration exceeds the burden of fear, we’ll all start moving towards getting back out there. Some combination of things will reduce the fear factor. The people who caught it & survived will feel better about getting out there. If my grandma died already, I’m not really protecting anyone at home now. The odds are in favour of that younger person surviving it, they’ll want to escape sooner. What if my government wage subsidy ends in a few weeks time? Put enough good reasons in my basket & I’m suddenly far more motivated to get back out there too. As more & more of us shift across to that position, it will start to feel more like getting back to work is the right thing for some, perhaps many, of us to do. Since there are some braving the more aggressive approach already, any reason the rest of us shouldn’t just sit back & watch what happens for a bit?

Personally, I’m still more in the fearful & careful camp at the moment. But I recognize that this shift in attitude may already have started. There was a noticeable uptick in my day job activity this week. It just feels like people are starting to get used to this whole COVID-19 thing. Of it being a part of our lives now. You might even say it’s beginning to feel normal! Okay, it’s not quite like the regular old flu yet. But you can start to see how it might be one day. There is a shift towards this new normal. No violence, no protests, & no bullshit required, it will happen all of its own accord!

Peace, love & stay safe, y’all!

PS … I think that was a pretty good deflection away from my monthly weigh in, don’t you!?! More dietary self-deprecation & humiliation will follow. I’ll come clean on how bad this month really was, I promise. Just not now. Besides, I really could use a cigarette!

A Useful Tool for our COVID-19 Toolbox

Oxygen Saturation Measurement from the Samsung Health App.

So far, I still haven’t smoked during the month of April. No doubt, for me, fear of COVID-19 was a contributing motivation to quit. I’m not delusional enough to think that a few weeks of being smoke-free is going to counteract a lifetime of abusing my lungs but hey, quitting can’t hurt & every little helps, right? And if I find myself without income during these turbulent times, it will certainly help if I’m not financing a smoking addiction too. That said, I know I’ll always be a smoker. Long term abstention is the best I can hope for. Even right now, writing about it, I’d kill for a smoke with my cup of coffee! 😁

A COVID-19 article in yesterday’s New York Times (article link) really caught my attention. SpO2? A pulse oximeter? What’s that & who’s got one of them?

I do! Or at least I had … until an update took it away!

I’m a big Samsung phone fan & I also love the Samsung Health app. Doesn’t every obese smoker want to know how screwed up he is!?! Along with monitoring heart rate, steps, & my lack of exercise (😜), my Samsung Note devices have a built-in pulse oximeter. That sensor used to measure my oxygen saturation & that is what the New York Times article is talking about. Unfortunately, some time back, the function vanished. I don’t know why but a new version of the Samsung Health app overwrote the old & the ability to measure oxygen saturation was gone.

Yesterday, after reading that article, I knew I needed it back. And at the risk of giving my phone a dose of a digital virus, I downloaded an older version of the Samsung Health app from a 3rd party website & I’m now measuring my SpO2 levels on my Samsung Note again. Woohoo!

The pic above shows my current O2 level & that number looks pretty good, well into the green zone. After only 3 weeks of not smoking, my heart rate is down & my oxygen saturation is better than my old “normal”. I’m a lifelong data gatherer. I’m not all that scientific with most of it, I just like to know where things are at, typically, & as a baseline. That way I can see when things are running adrift. If Dr. Levitan is right, this simple little tool on my phone might help me to decide when to call that emergency COVID-19 number to schedule a test. I sometimes worry whether I should, or should not, call to see if I need to get tested. Normally, I try to stay away for the doctor’s office & I run the risk of doing that for too long. Now, if my SpO2 numbers go lower than I’ve historically seen them, even when smoking, I think I’ll be motivated to make the call. I will be keeping my eyes open for further insights on what constitutes a low oxygen saturation number with respect to COVID-19.

Of course, this isn’t the only symptom we need to pay attention to. But monitoring oxygen saturation levels might be one more factor behind getting some of those more stubborn individuals in your life to see their doctor in a timely manner. And it might be useful data to share with your physician. It is just one more tool in our COVID-19 Toolbox.

I don’t want anyone to ruin their phone by going back to an old version of the Samsung Health app from a 3rd party website so please be careful & do your research before you decide to take that route. As an alternative, you can also buy the little finger pulse oximeter gadgets online & at your local drugstores & healthcare outlets. They are relatively inexpensive & they may help you establish a baseline for everyone in your household. No sharing outside the home would be recommended, I’m guessing! Should those baseline numbers change, you’ll know you’re doing the right thing when you call the doctor’s office. Or when you make the call on behalf of that stubborn member of your household!

Just to finish off on a dietary note … how’s that whole weight-loss thing going anyway? Especially now that I’m not smoking since the beginning of the month?

In a word … brutal! LOL

Needless to say, not having the opportunity to stuff a cigarette into my face twenty or more times a day, I’m stuffing all sorts of other things into my mouth instead. I’m like an eating machine & the scale is giving out a loud shriek every morning when I crush it! And to make matters worse, I read a few reports on obesity being a big contributing factor to some folk not fending off the bug well.

Oh well, one thing at a time. And we’ll see what the official weight damage is on the first of May!

Stay safe, all!

PS … if any of you learn anything more about the oxygen saturation thing, as it relates to COVID-19, please let me know.