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The chart above is from Watts Up with That crunching some surprising data from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The ship was a perfect lab experiment: 696 people sealed up together in a confined space with a highly contagious bug. And, as we all know, all seven fatalities were oldies.

But the article points to other surprising data: 83% didn’t get the virus at all. Old people were no more likely to get it than any other age group. Almost half those who got it showed no symptoms and, again, old people were well represented in this group (oddly, ages 20 to 49 were least likely to have symptomless corona).

And from another article:

…approximately 95% of the Wuhan population remained uninfected by the virus at the end of January…

I don’t suppose I’d call the above good news, exactly, but it’s better that the “80% of us will get it” stuff I’ve been hearing today.

Oh, and happy St Patrick’s Day!

March 17, 2020 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 17

Keep your chickens close

This pretty girl is G, and she didn’t turn up for roll call last night. She tends to wander away from the flock on her own and has given me a scare at evening before. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting chickens roosting where they shouldn’t, but I went ’round and ’round the neighborhood and couldn’t find her. I went to bed pretty sad about it.

When I got up this morning, there she was…pecking away happily in the garden. I don’t know where she spent the night, but she’s a lucky girl. Most chicken stories don’t have a happy ending.

So far, the locals have been (in my opinion) underreacting to the pandemic, but the panic buying finally hit today. We’ve been gradually stocking up for weeks, but Uncle B went out for some fresh bread and milk this afternoon. No dice.

I think supermarkets need to set up a public webcam aimed at the bread aisle so we don’t waste our time again.

All my many (ahem) social engagements have been cancelled or postponed, but they still haven’t shut work. I could easily do most of my job from home, but my boss is stubborn and cantankerous. And very much in the high-risk category. It will come.

By suggesting but not ordering people away from restaurants and other small businesses, the government is killing their custom but they can’t claim on insurance. If nothing is done to shore them up, this will be the end of a lot of shops here.

And think of all the shows and festivals and village fetes we go to every year. If they pause for one year, there’s a good chance they never come back. This virus will make permanent changes in local society.

All very sad.

March 16, 2020 — 8:56 pm
Comments: 23

Silent but Deadly

For ‘diarrheic gases’ read ‘farts’ throughout. We’re DOOOOOOOOMED!

I gather China is having a shitfit about people calling it the Wuhan flu. That’s racist, apparently. US media being what it is, they’d taken up the cry. A reminder of other geographic illnesses:

Spanish flu
German measles
West Nile virus
Guinea worm
Zika virus
Rock Mountain Spotted Fever
Lyme Disease

Spanish flu is particularly unfair. They were about the last country in Europe to get it but, not being part of WWI, they were the free to report about it so that’s the first most people heard of it.

Britain’s reaction to the flu is seriously not good (and is unique in the world, I believe). The plan is: old and vulnerable people go home and stay there for the foreseeable, and everybody else carries on, gets a dose of the flu and the country swiftly develops herd immunity. Even if there were not persistent reports of re-infection (so, no immunity), the likelihood is this will overwhelm the NHS in no time.

I have a feeling they will change that plan shortly.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and keep washing those hands.

March 13, 2020 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 22

Not so sure about this ‘going outside’ thing

Wellington was allowed out for the first time today. He’s not entirely sure about it.

He wouldn’t go more than a foot or two from the back door until I finally picked him up and carried him around front, to the garden proper.

It wasn’t raining (for once), though everything is persistently wet. He skulked around in the shadows for an hour and then asked to come in.

He will learn to love it, I can see that. But it’s all a bit much for a little pussycat wot’s never been allowed out before.

The chickens lost their shit. He didn’t even chase them, he just ran across the garden near them. One excitable girl flew ten feet in the air and twenty feet forward and had to be coaxed out of the hedge with a handful of cracked corn. And then they all screamed for the rest of the afternoon.

He looks like a little weasel, to be honest.

March 12, 2020 — 9:55 pm
Comments: 7

We got there in the end…

WHO has declared it a pandemic because “eight countries have more than a thousand cases”. Like that’s been the definition all along. You’d think they’d’ve said so.

Not much more to note. I’m refreshing the numbers every few, still puzzled by the variability country by country. I suspect it will all even out in the end.

Wellington is home and fine. A little strung out on the general anesthesia and pain meds, but wrestling on the floor with Boo (much to the consternation of Boo, who was just getting used to having the comfy chair again). I’ve spoken to his last owner, who called to make sure he came out of it okay.

And yes, it’s probably going to end up as Wellie, Boots or Bootsie.

March 11, 2020 — 8:32 pm
Comments: 4

Won’t anyone think of Wellington’s balls?

I think we’ve settled on Wellington. He’s down on the vet’s register as that, so it’s a done deal. We took him in late this afternoon for a neutering early tomorrow morning.

I hate to think how scared he must be tonight, in the dark in a cage with the bad smells and the scary sounds.

You may remember I sought him out as company for our two-year-old cat, who’s a sociable little chap. Of course, being a kitten, Wellington has driven Boo nuts. Playfighting too hard, giving him no peace. It will settle down when he grows up a little, but he’s driven Boo out of the house many’s a time.

And now that Wellington has inexplicably vanished, Boo is beside himself. He’s gone all around the house to the places the little one liked to hide. I’ve never seen a cat do this.

Now he’s gone outside. I hope he isn’t looking for Welly out there in the dark.

Virus update: as predicted, now they’re taking testing seriously in the US, the confirmed cases are swelling. From under 200 a week ago to almost 800 tonight. Still too lackadaisical in the UK, though – including my employer, who was shocked when I suggested cancelling a large gathering later this week.

March 10, 2020 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 17

Not funny “ha ha”

This was what the numbers looked like over breakfast. I’ve had “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” stuck in my head all day. Not funny.

That’s 1,492 cases overnight. It’s hard to know what’s going on in Italy, it’s hit so fast and so hard there. I’m tempted to put all the variability down to differences in testing and reporting, but the swing is very wide.

Except for the age thing. Everywhere that give out good data is saying this is a boomer plague.

And now we’re starting to see articles like this:

Don’t take this the wrong way but if you were a young, hardline environmentalist looking for the ultimate weapon against climate change, you could hardly design anything better than coronavirus.

Unlike most other such diseases, it kills mostly the old who, let’s face it, are more likely to be climate sceptics.

Note the url for this is “coronavirus-has-a-silver-lining”. Charming.

The political classes have been churning up resentment of old people for a number of years now. Boomers are apparently the reason the environment is fucked up, young people can’t afford houses, can’t get decent jobs, etc. Much ugliness.

The UK is still under reacting, in my opinion. A few big events have been cancelled, but not enough. I suggested that we cancel an event at work next week and was told, “but Italy is miles away.” Not enough, not enough.

Well, except the nationwide run on toilet paper. I hope we laid in enough.

March 9, 2020 — 8:45 pm
Comments: 9

I think he’s settled in

What he doesn’t know is, he’ll be neutered Wednesday. Or, as the vet bluntly called it, castrated.

But after that, he can go out into the world and he wants that more than anything. We’re still in contact with the woman we got him from. She confirmed to me that her living room was the only place he’d ever been.

She’s a very nice lady, but that was never going to work. I think this guy is going to be a bruiser.

If only he would tell us his name.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Remember your clocks change on Sunday (we have another couple of weeks). The sun had some real strength and virtue in it today, and no rain. Hold on!

p.s. does the pope coronavirus?

March 6, 2020 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 22

I’m sulking

It hammered with rain today. It hammered on me as I biked in to work. It hammered on me as I biked home. It hammered on me when I fed the chooks. It hammered on me when I put the chooks to bed.

It isn’t muddy by the chicken run today, it’s a standing pool of water an inch deep. The barley straw in their houses seems to pull moisture from the air and every day I’m grabbing wads of dripping, shit-covered straw and replacing it with dry. I have special gloves for this.

I was in the vilest of moods when I finally got home and dry. That is all.

Image stolen from the home screen of Rainy Mood, my favorite online white noise maker.

Virus update: We had our first coronavirus death today. All we know is it was someone with other health problems. The UK has tested about 13,500 for the virus and found just over a hundred cases. The US, as far as we know, has tested about 500 people and found 200 cases. Whenever they get their shit together and start mass testing, I think you’re in for a rude surprise (though if they’re only testing people they strongly suspect, the proportion is bound to be high).

March 5, 2020 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 11

I couldn’t resist…

The lamb from yesterday’s adventure. There aren’t many speckled flocks around. Incidentally, the lambing starts in earnest in about three weeks. Spring is coming!

I had some elderly bananas hanging around, so I have just made banana bread. This is one of those American foods that confuses Brits. For one thing, it’s clearly a cake, not a bread. They have banana cake here, but it’s light and fluffy not heavy and dense. At least, all my banana bread recipes are heavy and dense. And very rich.

I think they’re just being polite when they compliment it. They’re embarrassed for me and my inability to bake a light cake. If I called it a ‘heavy banana loaf’ or something, I bet it would go over better.

They have a thing called Soreen, which is denser even than banana bread, so it’s not outside the realm of British foods. There’s even a banana flavored Soreen.

It’s all in the marketing.

I would like British bacon 100% more if they relinquished the holy name of bacon and called it ‘chewy pork slices’ instead.

March 4, 2020 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 13