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…it’s what they don’t say…

Say, we haven’t done a virus update in a while.

We know someone locally under self-quarantine. No symptoms or anything. She’s just come home from Hong Kong and has been asked, along with her whole family, not to leave the house for two weeks.

What’s interesting is we didn’t know they were doing this. If they asked her, they must have asked thousands of others just back from the East, and there has been zero reporting of it. If I hadn’t had a phone call from her, we still wouldn’t know.

Did you know there were over 5,400 people in California alone that have been asked to self-quarantine since February 14? The number is from an article in the Wall Street Journal making the rounds on #Coronavirus Twitter.

Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, so that’s the only number I can read, but it must be thousands more nationwide. Did you know they were doing this? I didn’t.

As it happens, I’m feeling a little better about this outbreak. In my opinion as an art school dropout who’s read several books about the 1918 pandemic, it should’ve have started heating up around the world by now.

Either it’s a fizzle outside China for some reason, or it has a longer incubation time than they’re proposing.

February 19, 2020 — 9:25 pm
Comments: 11

Smells like science

Hey hey. I found a weak-ass paper to support my weak-ass rumor-mongering. This is the article going around Twitter.

There’s a receptor in the lung called Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2. Do I understand this? I do not. But apparently, the new Coronavirus ‘hooks in’ to these receptors. So did SARS. The more of them you have, the more susceptible you are. There was a study that counted ACE2 receptors in donated lungs (I was going to say healthy, but if you’re donating a lung, you’re probably dead).

The study found men had more ACE2 receptors than women by something like 3 to 1, and the Asian lung had, like, five times as many as the white or African lungs. Which would explain the weird way this disease is moving through the world.

It appears to be a proper academic study, but the kicker is the sample size was shit. Eight donors, of which one was Asian.

A sample size of one. This is not good.

I have to assume there have been other such studies, though. If they know there’s a connection between SARS and ACE2, I’m betting there’s a body of literature out there. It would be great if this means the epidemic can be halted, but I can’t call it good news if it means ripping a path of destruction through the East.

Oh, speaking of death. Kirk Douglas snuffs it at last and Neon Madman takes the dick. Congratulations!

You know what that means. Here. Tomorrow. Six-on-the-dot Weasel Blog Time. Dead Pool 129. (Was the Inktober Dead Pool really the most recent one?).

February 6, 2020 — 9:14 pm
Comments: 6

More virus blather

Anyone who’s following the coronavirus (and I assume it’s most of you) has seen this map. It’s updated once or twice a day with the most orthodox numbers. I’m putting it here so I have a handy bookmark. Most people probably don’t go upstream to find it’s put out by Johns Hopkins. They write more about the details of what they’re tracking here.

So far, I’m heartened by the fact that cases outside mainland China haven’t exploded yet. My chances of surviving a lung bug this year are not awesome.

That’s an odd thing, too. This chest bug I caught; we’ve talked to people all over Britain who clearly have the same lurgie. It’s starts like a normal cold, but a nasty, productive cough lingers for months. Mined turned very ugly; more like a mild pneumonia, really. It’s not hard to imagine this thing carrying off someone otherwise weakened.

Clearly it’s not a normal cold. I wonder what the public health threshold is, that makes the authorities take notice, take samples and identify this particular bug as a thing with a name and a history?

When I was a teenager in rural Tennessee, a bunch of us came down with a bad one. By ‘us’ I mean teenagers — I don’t think any other age group was affected. So the medical establishment decided it was mononucleosis. Because teenagers.

Not a single one of us tested positive for mono — and I suspect most of us were tested, because it was a long one. In my case, it started with painful sores inside my mouth. To this day, I sometimes have a flare-up of mouth sores when my immune system is low.

Why didn’t they try to identify it for real? I guess because there was only one death (if I recall correctly, a fifteen year old girl who fell asleep on the couch and never woke up).

Sometimes I think an illness has to be some scientist’s pet bug to get any attention.

January 28, 2020 — 8:22 pm
Comments: 7

Wash your hands, kids

I paid my taxes this evening. No, strike that — I filed my taxes. I am too poor to owe anything. Still, it’s a stressy little exercise to go through every year.

Now I’m just sitting here following the #CoronavirusOutbreak hashtag on Twitter.

There some weird footage coming out of Wuhan. Who knows if it’s real. That thing where people are walking down the street and suddenly collapse? That happened in the 1918 pandemic.

And there the resemblance does not end.


January 23, 2020 — 9:15 pm
Comments: 15

Ever use one of these?

Early in the frosty morn, I’m going to get up, take a bus to the hospital and have a chest x-ray.

Or I won’t. It’s a walk-in clinic so I’m under no obligation if it’s really frosty. But my doctor suggested it on account of I’m in Week 9 of the Hacking Cough.

I’m not too worried. I was such a heavy smoker for such a long time, I always hang on to coughs weeks after the virus has gone. Takes me forever to get my stamina back.

I’m thinking of asking Santa for one of these, charmingly called an incentive spirometer. You blow on the thing and up go the balls, I gather. It’s for lung rehab. Doctors sometimes send pneumonia patients home with them to recoup some lung function.

Now is the time when the old people talk about their operations.

December 3, 2019 — 9:31 pm
Comments: 17

Let the pill taking begin…

Amoxicillin. I arrived at work gasping and wheezing this morning and my boss made me go to the clinic.

At first I tried to make a regular appointment with my doctor, but the next available one is in three weeks. This thing would have either gone away or croaked me by then. So I made a so-called emergency appointment and got seen in an hour by a nurse practitioner.

The NHS paradox: good in a crisis, not so good for the routine.

She decided against steroids, but she could hear junk in my breath-bags, so antibiotics it is. It’ll be five weeks tomorrow since I caught this bug, so I guess an infection stands to reason, but I hate taking antibiotics. My gut microbiome is a sacred garden. Bring me kefir!

Still, it was great to have official doctor’s orders to skip out on work and be a lazy sack of shit all weekend. Have a good one!

November 8, 2019 — 8:27 pm
Comments: 6

How have I not seen this before?

This thing crossed my path yesterday. It’s called a Vein Viewer.

It’s a hand-held wand that you pass over the surface of the skin. It emits near-infrared light that is absorbed by the blood but bounces off the skin, showing the shape and position of veins – the closer to the surface, the better the image. Then the hand-held dingus makes a display out of that in real time and projects it onto the person with a laser.

I would really, really like to have one of those to play with for an afternoon. Its use is mostly just for precise needle sticks, particularly with difficult patients (like babbies). But it is very cool to watch in action.

So how come the top video on that page is eight years old?

February 11, 2019 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 1

So this came today

In case it isn’t clear, “final edition” means the last ever final printed Yellow Pages, like, ever. I’ve bought magazines that were thicker.

The Yellow Pages as such have only existed here for around fifty years, so they aren’t quite the venerable institution they are in the States. I don’t think we used it even when we were in London and the internet was younger. I can’t imagine what anyone might use them for in CURRENT YEAR and out here in the country. There are so many other local directories that do a fine job with less drama.

Is the phone book still a thing in the States?

Thanks to everyone who helped identify my eBay instrument haul (especially Muldoon, whose pronouncements had the ring of authority). It looks like I got me a set of surgical bone mauling tools.


May 17, 2018 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 11

Spatula, Prince of Darkness

Okay, last one. I have six round ones and five square ones. They are all flat, bent where they flair and have a little hook at the end (see the one in my hand). They’re all made of really nice stainless, so I hope I can grind them into something useful.

So. A) What are they, really? And B) What can I turn them into, with a little effort?

Thanks everyone for your help identifying these things. Good explanations, ridiculous ones — all are welcome.

May 16, 2018 — 9:48 pm
Comments: 15

Need anything…reamed?

The chucks at the top and the bits in the middle fit and lock into the handles at left. The little bits at the top fit into the chucks at the top. My hand for scale. Larger photo on request.

The obvious purpose is for drilling and reaming, but it’s all very awkward and uncomfortable. Like WHAT? Look at the length of the bottom-most one. WHY?

Makes me nuts I couldn’t get the bits to line up properly. Four hundred year old house, wonky floors. I’m lucky the whole business didn’t end up in my lap.

May 15, 2018 — 8:05 pm
Comments: 13