Plague Update: Can’t Handle The Truth

One of the best doctors in the country, not only for the health services he provides, but for his outreach regarding the climate crisis, is Dr. Joe Vipond. Here he is explaining the current health crisis and what can be done about it, while many others in his field shirk their responsibility to clearly communicate.

It wasn’t even 3 years ago that everyone made an effort to #FlattenTheCurve as our healthcare workers faced impossible odds to help everyone through a crisis like no other. Now, with Conservative governments sworn to avoid public health measures to satisfy their anti-masker bases, we’re amplifying an already bad situation and children are suffering because of it.

@trudykeil · “I can tell you why leaders aren’t saying the “A” (airborne) word.. capitalism and pressure from the far right. Conspiracy theorists were loud, obnoxious, and threatening and politicians weakly bent to their will. Now here we are in dystopia as kids get sick and few people care.”

@AndersonBooz · “Speaking the uncomfortable truth: politicians and other adults refuse to protect children because it is inconvenient to do so. They say sentimental things like “Kids are our future” but then their actions betray their self-interest.”

It shouldn’t be limited to only people reading my blog, or following the best people on Twitter, to know that science has answers to the current crisis.

@Sitarj · “Safety culture was one of the defining Canadian characteristics that I used to point to in contrast to Mexico and COVID absolutely murdered that. I’m looking at you @WorkSafeBC.”

@ProHealth4MyKid · “You summarized 3 years of complete failure & strategic misinformation in a few minute interview. Well said & well done.I’m so tired of living in this vile society that forces children to be repeatedly infected with viruses when the tools are in front of us.”

We don’t hear Conservative Premiers back down from their ultimatums against public health protections, even when kids’ lives are on the line. They can’t bear the taste of crow, not even to save kids? It’s hard to imagine more ideologically despicable human beings.

If they gave a damn, here’s what would happen:

They’d have a TV suppertime announcement with a public health leader explaining that COVID-19 is airborne, and infected people need to be isolated while the source of their infection is traced. They’d required people wear respirators in public indoor spaces, and start distributing them. They’d issue a cell phone alert advising people to wear respirators, and limit social contacts for a few weeks. They’d admit that COVID-19 is an ongoing pandemic emergency that is not over and pretending it is done has caused harm.

Possibly Close The Schools temporarily. Offer UBI or CERB to parents losing income to care for their children. Extend sick leave benefits.

We’ve done it before, we know it works to delay infections and give the healthcare workers time to catch up.

Why Drive A Gas Car When There Are EVs?

The following was given as a presentation to the Unitarian Fellowship of Regina. I enjoyed my time this morning after being invited to speak about Electric Vehicles.

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Most adults in Regina have driven a car before, but fewer than 1 in 100 have an electric vehicle. As a driver, why would you want to drive an EV, instead of a gas vehicle? There is a long list of reasons to do it, while the reasons not to are shrinking as the years go by. At the end of my talk, I promise you’ll know more about EVs, and can use this knowledge to save money, reduce pollution, and help others to resist the disinformation campaign to keep EVs mysterious and less-used than their petroleum burning cousins.

blue EV in front of Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw

The first thing to know about EVs is that they were the original motor car. Gas cars came later, and didn’t have as much appeal to many people, because they were less convenient. You had to crank start them, for instance, and find fuel for them. Electricity was more easily available. Battery technology was heavy, however. You couldn’t go on the long, convenient trips that people expect from their automobiles now. So as electric starters came into being, gas cars took over. The prevalence of fuel stations had expanded too, making travel by gasoline more convenient.

Technology has flipped this situation again though. With improved batteries, the more simple and efficient electric vehicle is again on top for technology and convenience. Most Regina homes have a driveway or garage with electricity, so you can fill up at home, on an ordinary 120V outlet like your gas vehicle’s block heater uses. There are long-range EV from many manufacturers like Hyundai, Kia, Tesla, GM, Ford, and others. There are also convenient filling stations for EVs across the province, and the charging network is getting better each year. There are apps like Plugshare.com that show you where virtually every charger is located.

So that’s where things stand for the moment.

Why should you trust my opinion about this? In comparison to 99% of other Saskatchewanians, I’m an expert in EVs. I’ve owned an EV since 2017. I’ve managed a fleet of two other EVs for Regina Car Share Co-operative. I took a borrowed EV on a 6100km vacation road trip this summer to Ottawa and back to Regina. I’ve driven 4 makes of EVs, and I’ve been given rides in every sort of production Tesla model. And I’m confident in the technology gaining wider market share so I’ve invested in 4 different EV-specific automakers too.

I’ve spent a decade and a half working to build alternative transportation to the predominant privately owned automobile that has misshapen our city. What do I mean by that? How have cars misshapen Regina? Practically every community project revolves around parking cars, whether it’s an event, or even the construction of a new building. We’ve placed less emphasis on public transportation for generations, and it shows in how we think about, build, and move ourselves around our city. It’s difficult to exist in Regina without access to a car.

In 2007 I learned about car sharing, and with a few dozen other Reginans we formed the Regina Car Share Co-operative the following year. We’ve held several of our AGMs in the basement of the Unitarian Centre, over the years. The idea is to have cars available to people for hourly rentals, 24 hours a day, using the Internet to book time with them. This reduces the cost of using a vehicle. Most people pay for a vehicle even when it sits idle in their driveway. Insurance is a daily cost we tend to overlook. People pay for carsharing vehicles mostly when they’re driving them, instead of while they’re asleep. We’ve managed to add 2 EVs to Regina Car Share Co-op’s fleet, as electric vehicles are less costly to maintain and to recharge. They also don’t need oil changes, which saves hassle and expense while maintaining a fleet of vehicles.

I mentioned that there’s a disinformation campaign keeping the electric car from widespread adoption despite its advantages over the more common gasoline vehicles. Regina City Council got a taste of some of it in past years when it turned down free EV chargers from Sun Country Highway. Council was given some unusually high cost estimates for installation, to dissuade it from accepting the chargers. It didn’t take the gift. Now the City has an electric pickup truck, and could have charged it on that free hardware.

In early 2021 a city Councillor pitched the idea of preventing fossil fuel companies from advertising on city-owned property. The Premier of Saskatchewan, whose party happens to take large donations from fossil fuel and advertising companies, responded angrily. Ward 6 Councillor Dan LeBlanc lost his job at a law firm in the organized backlash. As you can see, there is big money, and powerful people behind keeping us stuck on gas powered transportation, so you have to be skeptical of negative things you hear about EVs. That’s not to say they’re perfect, they certainly have their faults, but stacked up against gas burning vehicles, they’re better in most ways.

Have you heard of problems regarding EVs? What are some of them? Let’s address those ideas:

_______

Winter, battery recycling, slow charging time, range, cost, limited servicing options, conflict minerals, pollution shifting, etc.

What makes an EV cost less to operate than an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle? Physics. An electric motor is far more efficient than an ICE. For each unit of energy you put into an electric motor, you go further and produce less waste heat compared to any ICE. Energy is expensive, and in most cases in Saskatchewan it’s produced from dirty sources. However, Saskatchewan’s electrical grid is only 40% coal powered right now, and that figure is dropping this decade, approaching 0%. Even on today’s fossil fueled grid, SaskPower confirms EVs charged by it produce 30% fewer emissions than if they came from the tailpipe of a similar vehicle.

The cost comparison when you look at electricity vs. fuel, is stark. In April 2022 I took a trip to Moose Jaw in my EV, and it used $3.33 of electricity for the entire round trip. With gas at about $1.55/L it’s more like $24 for that same trip if I burned gas. It used to be about 4-5 times less expensive to use electricity instead of gas, but with the price of gas much higher, it’s more like 7-9 times less expensive.

Now you have a sense of how much money you’d be saving if you switched from driving a gas-burning car to an EV. A back-of-the-napkin calculation would be to think what you spent on gasoline in the last month, divide that number by 7, and apply the result to your next power bill instead.

If you charge it using SaskPower’s electricity instead of a solar array at home, you’d be producing at least 30% fewer emissions, with no tailpipe emissions inside Regina.

And if you share some of these bits of experience with people replacing their cars, they may have a greater opportunity to save money, and reduce emissions than if they stroll into an auto dealer ready to accept outdated gas technology that will cost them more to operate while making more pollution than they would with an EV car or truck.

blue Kona Electric in front of green painted parking for EVs in a parking garage.

November

There are things going on. From absurd numbers of kids home sick from school, to the Grey Cup going on today in Regina.

The most vocal civilian critic of the SaskParty’s support of abusive religious schools (who were teaching dinosaurs were around with Creationist people), had their home vandalized with bible verse graffiti. They fled, and their home was torched, killing some of their pets and destroying their belongings! A fundraiser is attempting to help them. I’d like to see it exceed their goal, to show that the governing party’s thugs can’t chase good people away.

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Doug Ford in Ontario kicked an ant hill and almost got bit. He legislated workers back to work with the Notwithstanding Clause in the Charter, overriding their Charter right to collective bargaining. He caved when he saw a general strike was imminent. The fines were so big, the unions had to fight to the mat and beyond to win.

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The US election looks like the Democrats will take the Senate and the Republicans the House. Fingers crossed that the GQP doesn’t take a majority in the House, so it won’t be tied up with stupidity for quite as long. The counting and recounting is taking quite some time, and there’s a runoff in Georgia again between Walker and Warnock this time. Walker is a complete idiot, so he’s got a chance.

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Russia just launched missiles into Poland the other day, a dangerous escalation of their war against Ukraine. There are Russia supporters claiming this was disinformation, and that Russia didn’t launch an attack, even accidentally, on Poland.

Plague Update: Upon Reflection, Let Me Off This Ride

Here’s a frank account of what the last 3 years have held for hopes, dreams, and ultimately failures. I can’t disagree with his points.

Here’s my summary.

We went into the pandemic unprepared. Canada landfilled crates full of expired N95 masks stockpiles prior to needing them in 2020. Our leaders insisted there was no problem, as pro athletes mocked the seriousness of COVID-19 just before their leagues shut down to save their lives. Schools were closed, and the Canadian government issued emergency funding to many people since they couldn’t work in offices or at worksites until we got a better handle on how screwed we were. March 2020 went by, and many places didn’t ‘become Italy’ with its absurd death rate, so capitalist governments still chomping at the bit, announced they’d “Re-open economies”.

Kids went back to schools without any protections aside from masks worn most of the day in crowded rooms, some with poor ventilation. Infection rates crept upward, there weren’t any vaccines to rely on, and few experimental drugs to help those ending up in hospitals with overwhelmed bodies.

Then vaccines arrived for most people in the western world in 2021, but it quickly became apparent that variants were infecting “fully vaccinated” people. Terrible governments who wanted to emulate the Americans, like Alberta, dropped mask requirements, before admitting it was based on faulty UK data and analysis. Infections got worse, and Delta arrived and thrived at the expense of lives. Saskatchewan’s incompetent and malicious Premier Moe got COVID after spreading it at a school he was campaigning at. The Speaker of the Legislature got it. The Prime Minister of Canada caught it a second time after attending a maskless conference in the USA.

Then things really fell apart. There’s no public health measures, no testing and tracing available, and no chance for most people to access drugs to fight COVID-19 infections at home. All this while we know that repeated infections are terrible for your health, and could very well shorten lifespans in meaningful ways. Kids are needing hospitalization at a rate that our systems can’t keep up with. If we aren’t even willing to do what’s best for our children, what good is our society?

UPDATE: Will Santa’s reindeer be a bio-hazard this Christmas?

Methane EMIT

There’s a European satellite watching for methane pollution. It spotted a big leak in Alberta.

ISS has a camera called EMIT attached and it can see methane plumes on Earth. The data is public, but not as easy as surfing around like on Google Earth to map it.

“Jan Gorski, director of the Pembina Institute’s oil and gas program, said consistent regulation is vital to spotting emissions.

“The source, location, and generation of methane emissions is unpredictable, which is why we need good measurement and monitoring to catch these rare events,” he said. 

“If it’s something caught by satellite it shows that it was a pretty significant source of methane emissions.”

Gorski said the current data on the average level of methane emissions from the gas sector is based on studies from more than a decade ago.”

Hammer Fox News

Fox News would like its viewers to think that political assassination is an everyday occurrence, and the perps walk the next day.

Plague Update: Not Much Better, Possibly Worse

My blog lately doesn’t have enough good content, and I can’t claim this is either, but it’s how I feel and apparently someone else does too:

“Nobody who is trying to convince you to take off your mask will be there for you when you get sick. When you lose your taste, they will make fun of you for eating so little (happening to someone I know). When you have chronic fatigue, they will call you a hypochondriac.

When you have blood clots, they will say “oh so young” & carry on with their lives. When you file for disability & get denied multiple times, they will simply delete you out of their lives.

They will not go to the numerous doctor appointments with you. When you need financial help for your deteriorating health conditions, they will avoid you like the plague(not an accurate expression now but you know what I mean). They will NOT be there for you. You will suffer alone.

Whoever’s trying to convince you to take off your mask because they did, are doing so to feel less bad about their own decisions. They are telling you to risk your long term health so they wouldn’t have to stare at their own stupidity. They are BAD friends.

The end.” – Guglar9

I would change that only to say that they’re maybe not bad friends, but they aren’t with you on pushing back against the government lunacy that removed every Public Health measure aside from vaccination being available. Canadians with heart conditions, like me, can’t even get a prescription for Paxlovid if we get sick, but there are hundreds of thousands of doses of the drug sitting on shelves saving no one.

Troll Busted

To Ontario In An Electric Vehicle

The following is a journal of a cross-Canada trip by electric vehicle this summer.

July 30th, 2022 – Left Regina in a Kona 2022 Electric vehicle, on our way to Ottawa. The first time charging it was in Whitewood, SK, and we opted for the Petro-Can because there was a bad rating on Plugshare.com for the Co-op EV chargers there. The first one I pulled up to didn’t work, so we tried the other one and it did. While charging, a couple pulled up in another new EV, and were on their way to Dauphin from B.C. They waited 10 minutes for us to finish charging, and we got food at the gas station.

My kiddo’s friend bought a milkshake type thing, which was in a fridge below some sort of processing station, but it turned out to be spoiled. I tasted it, and we threw the rest away.

We tried charging at the Co-op in Virden, but it was out of order. Their customer support was responsive on Plugshare, and it might have been fixed prior to our return trip, but we didn’t end up testing it again. We instead charged a little bit for free at the Sun Country Highway charger near the old train station and had a walk under the tracks and around the old building before heading out to Brandon. We filled up there, and continued to Winnipeg where we ended the day at my relatives’ place south of the city and I roasted a marshmallow while catching up some.

One of my cousins’ family was just recovering from COVID-19, while a 2nd cousin had recently died in a drowning accident on the open prairie. The kids played on the trampoline, acquiring an expected non-serious injury only.

July 31 – On Sunday morning we left in the well stuffed car with 3 people, and were the first to record on Plugshare a charge at a south end Winnipeg Co-op charger. It wasn’t especially rapid, most of the chargers I encountered cost about $18-$20/hour, and deliver power at less than the advertised 50kW even when the battery is in a condition it should accept close to that. The car seem to be limited to about 75kW, but there are some CCS chargers capable of over 200kW, which would save some money when filling the battery and being charged by the minute.

We next stopped in Kenora, finding Redden’s Store next to their campgrounds, with an Ivy charger, an Ontario network of rapid chargers. There were 2 EVs there before we got there, so had to wait about 10 minutes to connect to one. One of the drivers was from Quebec, and the other from the west. One family was preparing a snack outside the car in the decent weather. I figured out the app, creating one on my phone, getting a hotspot to be able to activate the charger, and waited 39 minutes for the car to finish charging.

We got to Dryden and the sun was about to go down so we found a campground on the highway in town, and it was only $25. There were some shortfalls, one there was no water to half the campground (including our spot), and no toilet paper. The owner was friendly and helpful though, and explained the water service was being repaired soon.

We charged at a nearby Ivy for 30 minutes, and got Subway across the street. The firewood at the campsite was damp, and despite quite a few minutes trying, no lasting fire worked. The kids camped in the car, but their tent was set up with the good cushions, so I had my firm mat only for my sleeping bag. In the morning I learned they’d not used the tent, so got the good cushions next time.

Aug 1 – Charged next in Thunder Bay, it was a holiday Monday, so the A&W and Superstore across the stroad were both closed. A Tesla owner was able to charge at the Ivy beside us because they used the CHAdeMO adapter, although the CCS cord at that charger wasn’t working.

Finished a 25 minute charge at Terrace Bay at midnight and found a rest stop to sleep.

Aug 2 – Sault Ste Marie charged for an hour. Blind River charged for 18 minutes. Stayed overnight in Sudbury at a hotel near the international bridge covered in flags.

Aug 3 – Had breakfast at a breakfast themed restaurant with a sticky table that wobbled until we put paper under a leg of it. Charged in North Bay for 8 minutes. Paused at a nuclear demonstration plant. Charged in Petawawa at another Ivy for 24 minutes before reaching Ottawa.

Aug 4 – Courtyard Marriott in Ottawa near the Via Rail station and the ball park.

Aug 5th – Went to CFL game

Aug 6 – Phoned Meyers Hyundai and left a voice mail. They called back as I was going into the War Museum and said they could help Monday morning.

Aug 7 – Hogsback Falls

Aug 8 – Got up at my Gatineau hotel across from the casino, and took the car to Meyer’s Hyundai. They got me an Uber back to the Supreme Court of Canada, and I walked by Parliament and got a free ticket to tour the Senate of Canada Building. Spent a lot of the day in the Rideau Centre on my phone looking through the Internet.

Aug 9 – Called the dealership and they said the part to fix the charger on the car would arrive Wednesday and I could use it before then if I wanted.

Aug 10 – Part didn’t arrive, I’d taken the bus over to Bayshore Mall and got my cell phone battery replaced while I ate a Beyond Meat burger from A&W, and got a cord from a dollar store in the mall. I continued my trip over to Meyer’s Hyundai on the bus, and picked up the car. I took the kids to an arcade across the street from the Ottawa Citizen and National Post. I lost my game card playing laser tag, but found it when walking through after the game.

Aug 11 – Checked out of hotel, and dropped kids off at the outlet mall across from the Canadian Tire Centre, then dropped the car off to be repaired. I walked over to the mall and found interesting ditch garbage along the way. Met the kids at the candy store, and we also got Beaver Tails for lunch. The kiddo bought a Lakers hat and found one on sale so he could afford to get Lebron’s name and number embroidered onto the hat too.

We left Ottawa after the car was repaired, charging in Carleton Place at an Ivy for an hour and 5 minutes before charging in Peterborough at a Flo station for the first time. We arrived in Port Severn after dark, and went to my friend’s cabin for the night. After a steak, fried zucchini, and corn on the cob feast, we watched the Perseids meteor shower. I saw 4 meteors, not a bad haul.

Aug 12 – We left the cabin, and the kiddo got to drive a boat for the first time. We charged the car for an hour in Port Severn, while eating burgers at the roadside restaurant across the street from the library and their community garden.

Aug 13 – Blind River charge was 30 minutes. Charged in Sault Ste Marie at the Ivy by the water tower again for only 6 minutes. Drove around a bit, almost made a wrong turn into the United States. Found a Walmart had moved from the position on the GPS or map we’d used.

Aug 14 – Charged at Ivy in Terrace Bay again, for 30 minutes, and climbed the lighthouse. The kiddo had a meltdown when ice cream shops were all closed and the gas station had none. Decided to leave him on a bench by the chargers where he’d parked himself after refusing to get back into the car for a while. Returned a few minutes later. Rolled into Dryden campground really late even after the time change. Kids were asleep, I set up my tent, and fell asleep, not using the marshmallows on a campfire.

Aug 15 – The tent was a bit wet outside, and a small bit of water inside. Flicked a couple of slugs off the outside of the tent. Ate a few wild blueberries. There was still no toilet paper in the campground, but I’d brought some this time, and the water was on also. The water was on too much, there was some of it on the floor of the bathroom and the artificial turf or carpet indoors was soggy.

We charged again at the Ivy, and ate breakfast.

We charged again at Kenora, and again at Petro-Can as we entered Winnipeg. Used a Co-op charger in south Winnipeg to try it out and use the bathroom at the grocery store.

Aug 16 – We charged in Brandon at 3 locations and had lunch at the Co-op grocery store deli. We then played some arcade games. The pinball machine was malfunctioning, with a rubber bumper that came off and blocked the balls from falling properly. :-(

We charged again in Whitewood, encountered many grasshoppers prior to Indian Head where I used the Shell’s squeegee, and then arrived home to drop off the kiddo’s friend, before we drove home to unload the car. I then refilled the battery to 90% over night on my level 2 charger at home.

It was approximately $431 to charge the car in total, after returning to Regina. There was some charging done at 2 different hotels, and would have been 3, but the charger in the car stopped working in Ottawa and had to be repaired.

National War Monument, Ottawa

Plague Update: Sask Health Suffers Long Term Care Outbreak

COVID in wastewater has never been higher in Regina, and the people have never been less mandated to care about the health of their fellow Saskatchewanians. Even a random person from 2019 would be more likely to put on a mask when told that they could save lives with one simple move.