Categories
pandemic

Alberta Biggest Pandemic Hotspot

We’re number one in North America. The map below shows our average number of cases per 100,000 over the last seven days to be 41.3.

The real worry is, we had 2,433 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 just yesterday. In a population of 4.4 million, that works out to about 553 cases per 100,000 people. The news can’t stop talking about India having a rate of 190 per 100,000 people so it’s insane that our infection rates are so high.

Here’s some rolling average numbers from South America right now:

As you can tell, the numbers aren’t even close and yet we still have people protesting that they don’t want to get vaccinated and who refuse to wear masks.

I’m out of school not because schools are closed but because my students have an option class with a teacher that has COVID-19. I was hoping we’d be heading out of this by the end of June. Now I’m just hoping our numbers will be more reasonable by September.

Categories
religion

Membership

It was Saturday May 2nd, 1987 — 34 years ago today — when as an eight year old I joined the LDS church. Even then I remember being a skeptic but intense pressure to “make the decision” meant I didn’t have much choice. I ping ponged between not feeling worthy and insecurities about the “truthfulness” of the whole operation. The evening itself was nice and the conversation I had about it with my dad in the change room was memorable.

My memory of the night isn’t perfect but I remember a few details. Danielle MacNiven and Dan Baugh were both scheduled to be baptized that night too but I’m pretty sure Dan was a no-show — which thinking about it now, it’s bizarre that he wasn’t there. I wonder if he had cold feet? Or maybe I can’t remember the details right and it was someone else that was the no-show.

Anyway, the physical experience of the baptismal font surprised me. It was warmer than a public pool and cooler than a hot tub. I’d never worn clothes in water before so that was new and the too tight jumper they forced me to wear was not comfortable. I stressed that the water would make the white outfit transparent but I don’t remember that being an issue in reality.

In my experience, what happens in a baptism is that the dad (assuming he’s in good standing — which he was) takes you down into the lukewarm water of the baptismal font, holds their arm to the square, says a ceremonial prayer and submerges the reluctant joiner under the water. It doesn’t take very long, but then you come up out of the water to an overpowering crowd of eager lookie-loos only to be told that the dunk didn’t count because your elbow wasn’t quite below the water line and that it needs to happen one more time, for full sin washing potency. So we did it again.

Back in the change room, while we dried off, I told my dad that I was reluctant to go through with part 2, the confirmation blessing. He asked why I didn’t say something sooner. I’m not sure what I said but I remember he told me that, “now, it’s too damn late.” Geez, Dad, swearing in the church about baptism? — even then I was a judgy kid. He went on to tell me about the first time he went through the temple — an even more esoteric ceremony within the church — and how at the end of it all he had to get married to someone he DID NOT WANT TO GET MARRIED TO (His first wife). So, he could relate.

Nevertheless, as far as he was concerned my fate was sealed and we went to the primary room for more prayer, singing, and a bunch of old men putting their hands on my head while one of them gave me blessings of happiness so long as I stayed worthy — I think it was my grandpa that did the honours. Being baptized meant I got a clean slate but from this point forward anything I did wrong would be permanent points against me on judgement day — seriously, how is this healthy for an eight year old?

So that’s it. That’s what I remember about my baptism. Coincidentally, May 2nd was arbor day and on the same day, my family and I planted some trees in the coulee behind our house. I don’t have any regrets about the trees we planted that day. They are big now.

Categories
Art technology

Relm

Some friends of mine1 built a new kind of online meeting space. It’s called Relm. It’s a virtual space that brings people together in a game-like environment with live video chat. In a nutshell, it’s a playful virtual space for online events.

Relm is a community of artists, engineers, philosophers, and spiritual thinkers making a new kind of home on the internet. It’s a virtual world where you can commune with friends.

Updated video:

Just a couple of days ago they updated it to (sort of) work on iOS (iPhone, iPad). Safari is my browser of choice and while you can get basic functionality, it seems to work best in Chrome.

Try out this example world.

1. Duane Johnson is the main programmer behind Relm. There are others that I don’t really know that well. I’m closer friends with Duane’s brothers — I met Duane in person a few years ago in Utah.

Categories
video

Crazy, Amazing, Drone Footage Videos

Scott Simmie, DroneDJ:

Odds are, you’ve seen that amazing bowling alley FPV video that was released in early March. It was a phenomenal piece of piloting and timing, showing off various attributes in the life of a bowling alley in Minnesota – all in a single shot lasting 87 seconds.

I had not seen the video, and if you also haven’t then I highly recommend you check it out. Here it is:

Next up, Mall of America:

The bowling alley video was all shot in a pretty confined space, which created numerous challenges for the pilot. The new video is located in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. It’s a massive mall, complete with an indoor amusement park. And Jay takes us through it all.

Another video, this one of the Black Lives Matter protests:

Twin Cities 2020 is a powerful piece of work, telling the stories of those cities during one of the most momentous, tumultuous years in their history.

Categories
education work

Edmonton Spelling Test on Google Forms

I’ve been using the The Edmonton Spelling List for my grade 5 class. Because we’ve switched to at home, online learning I created a Google Form as a place for them to write their answers. It’s a nice bonus that Google Forms marks it automatically.

Not long after I instructed my students to load up the Google Form, my stomach sank. Sure, a few students loaded it with no trouble, but other students began complaining about a warning / they were unable to continue. It wasn’t clear at first what was causing the problem. Then, one after another, the students who were complaining started to drop out of the classroom meetup.

It turns out that I had put the Google Form in “Lock-down mode” because I didn’t want their browsers giving them hints on how to spell the words or tabbing over to Google to get a helpful correction on the words. Well, lock-down mode locked the students out of the tab that had the meet-up. A few of the students rebooted and rejoined the class but another more intrepid student began filling in all 50 blank questions with non-sense so that it would allow him to submit it. That’s one way to kill ten minutes of class time.

Long story short, lock-down mode would have been great for in-school learning but it didn’t work for online schooling. I ended up having them do a version not locked down and just pretended that browsers don’t underline misspelled words.

The list below has copy generating links in case other teachers want to make a copy.

Categories
Apple finance

Apple Earnings Call Q2 2021

Apple released it’s second quarter earnings today and blew out even the most exuberant expectations with revenue reaching a record $89.6 billion, up 54 percent year over year. The results were fabulous across the board.

iPhone $47,938 million (up 66%)
Mac $9,102 million (up 70%)
iPad $7,807 million (up 79%)
Wearables, Home and Accessories $7,836 million (up 25%)
Services $16,901 million (up 27%)
Total Net Sales $89,584 million (up 54%)

What a great quarter. Particularly iPad and Mac were very, very strong. Just look at Mac alone — the last three quarters have each returned record earnings. Sales looking forward are predicted to be supply constrained rather than demand constrained.

More details of their earnings can be found in Apple’s Fiscal Year 2021 Second Quarter Consolidated Financial Statement.

Check out the charts at Six Colors.

Categories
pandemic

Online Learning

We’ll be shifting to online learning at my workplace for at least the next couple weeks after 66% of our school is considered close contacts with positive COVID-19 cases. My class is one of the classes that are out so hopefully this will give my vaccination the necessary 10 days for maximum efficacy. Hopefully I didn’t catch it in the one day I was back at school after getting my shot.

Categories
technology

Charlie Warzel has a Substack

Charlie Warzel, former technology opinion writer for the New York Times, has quit his job there to jump onto the newsletter subscription Substack bandwagon. He’s calling his, “Galaxy Brain”.

In the introduction to his foray in the Substack revolution he explains why he would jump ship.

“The last two places I worked were big, polarizing brands, which also meant that a huge chunk of my readers on a given story were there because they wanted to use what I’d written — usually just the headline — as ammunition in a culture war battle… And if I’m honest, it’s burned me out and left me feeling grim about the role of mainstream media.”

His latest instalment features him outlining why he is skeptical of Facebook’s courtship of creators. While I enjoyed the piece, I’m not exactly neutral on Facebook in the first place. Go figure — Facebook again ripping-off another platform in a blatant attempt to capitalize on the latest trends… who would have thunk-it?

Categories
pandemic

Vaccination Day

We got the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination today. I had a little bit of the tingles that some people are complaining about but no headache or other issues that my friends who got the vaccine had. Andrea says she has no symptoms at all. We’ll see how the night progresses. I’m super relieved to get it.

One of my close friends told me about his cousin who as a 45 year old teacher educational assistant contracted the virus. She got worse and worse over the last couple weeks going into the hospital and then the ICU. Today he let me know they took his cousin off life support and she died. She contracted the virus at work. Though I’ve never met her, I feel awful for her husband and two young kids.

Update: The next day was a different story. I was wiped out! Headache and joint aches. The symptoms calmed down a bit yesterday but three days out I’m still feeling residual stiffness in my joints and a slight headache. If this is just a small taste of what getting the actual disease is like… I hate to imagine.

Update: There is now a gofundme page for the Therrien family.

Categories
backmasking

Backmasking

During a 1974 interview published in Rolling Stone Magazine, Paul McCartney discussed the many hidden meanings in The Beatles’ work that consumed obsessive fans. He mentioned that some people believed the cover of Abbey Road to contain clues revealing that he died. He pointed out that it’s easy to see hidden meanings in things if you were looking for hidden meanings.

He also discussed backmasking. Backmasking is the phenomenon in which artists will put backward messages in their songs. (See my backmasking page). While there are some examples of intentional backmasking, other times fans hear messages in songs played backward the artist did not intentionally put there. For example, Paul admitted that one of the songs from Sgt. Pepper sounds like it included the f-word when played backward even though he wasn’t aware of this until after the album’s completion.

From the 1974 interview with Paul McCartney (also Linda) in Rolling Stone Magazine:

[Paul:] Once you get analyzing something and looking into it, things do begin to appear and things do begin to tie in. Because everything ties in, and what you get depends on your approach to it. You look at everything with a black attitude and it’s all black.

This other idea of Paul Is Dead. That was on for a while. I had just turned up at a photo session and it was at the time when Linda and I were just beginning to knock around with each other steadily. It was a hot day in London, a really nice hot day, and I think I wore sandals. I only had to walk around the corner to the crossing because I lived pretty nearby. I had me sandals on and for the photo session I thought I’ll take my sandals off.

Linda: No, you were barefoot.

Paul: Oh, I was barefoot. Yeah, that’s it. You know, so what? Barefoot, nice warm day, I didn’t feel like wearing shoes. So I went around to the photo session and showed me bare feet. Of course when that comes out and people start looking at it they say, “Why has he got no shoes on? He’s never done that before.” OK, you’ve never seen me do it before, but, in actual fact, it’s just me with my shoes off. Turns out to be some old Mafia sign of death or something.

Then the this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards stuff. As I say, nine times out of ten it’s really nothing. Take the end of Sgt. Pepper, that backward thing, “We’ll f— you like Supermen.” Some fans came around to my door giggling. I said, “Hello, what do you want?” They said, “Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says ‘We’ll f— you like Supermen’.” I said, “No, you’re kidding. I haven’t heard it, but I’ll play it.” It was just some piece of conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. But I went inside after I’d seen them and played it studiously, turned it backwards with my thumb against the motor, turned the motor off and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain as anything. “We’ll f— you like Supermen.” I thought, Jesus, what can you do?

And then there was “I buried Paul.”

That wasn’t “I buried Paul” at all, that was John saying “cranberry sauce.” It was the end of “Strawberry Fields.” That’s John’s humor. John would say something totally out of synch, like “cranberry sauce.” If you don’t realize that John’s apt to say “cranberry sauce” when he feels like it, then you start to hear a funny little word there, and you think “Aha!”

When you were alive and presumed dead, what did you think?

Someone from the office rang me up and said, “Look, Paul, you’re dead.” And I said, “Oh, I don’t agree with that.” And they said, “Look, what are you going to do about it? It’s a big thing breaking in America. You’re dead.” And so I said leave it, just let them say it. It’ll probably be the best publicity we’ve ever had and I won’t have to do a thing except stay alive. So I managed to stay alive through it.

Paul is dead, but Chris Farley found out that he isn’t.