Current Events

Can’t keep us down

The human spirit is irrepressibly creative.

Three mates stuck in their apartment Barcelona hit a chord with their bit, Stay Homas and have now become an internet sensation with their own YouTube channel and a profile in the New Yorker.

When British sportscasters get bored.
Daniel is a Flyers fan when he’s not parodying Broadway
Current Events

Exponential Growth

I found this video and accompanying visualization of exponential growth on a logarithmic scale helpful, if not terrifying.

Animated plot of selected nations does not bode well for the United States. When looking at the growth along a logarithmic scale you see the United States and Italy shoot up and to the right like fireworks – racing past South Korea and China.

Singapore took quick action because of their experience with SARS but you can see the number of cases creeps back up but they are still below the trajectory of other nations. Japan and Finland have also managed to keep slightly below the trajectory of most nations but I think it’s too early to tell why.

Current Events

Group Play

Stuck at home, the world’s symphonies are using technology to play, together.

Rotterdam Philharmonic plays Beethoven’s 9th

I learned later that each of the Rotterdam musicians did their bit without practice.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring
Orquesta Sinfonica de Castilla y Leon plays Beethoven’s 9th symphony
Jerusalem Street Orchestra plays Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Students at Berklee College of Music play Love Sweet Love

The week that was

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were officially postponed to 2021 – which presents a problem for those in charge of branding.

Air traffic coming in and out of Chicago Midway was shut down when three staff members tested positive for Covid-19. During the shutdown, “student pilots took advantage of the situation and began taking off and landing at MDW for fun.”

As the situation in Florida started to get worse, a correspondent for the Canadian magazine MacLeans picked up and left for home and wrote about it in Escape from Florida: My 2,400-km drive back to the sanity of Canada.

Things are so bad that even Waffle Houses, that stalwart institution of the South, is closing down under a Waffle House Index Red conditions.

With air travel dried up, the major airlines had to look for places to park their grounded planes. Delta took over several runways at Atlanta airport to park some of the 600 planes they put out of service.

Stuck indoors under a citywide shelter in place order, residents of San Francisco are delivering rolls of toilet paper by drone.

Faced with a world without live sports, casinos are scrambling for new things to bet on. In the “this will not end well” department, a Las Vegas casino is filing paperwork to take bets on the outcome of the presidential election.

Other businesses had to retool themselves including the movie theatre that is now in the popcorn business, the hockey equipment company that is making face shields for hospitals, and the sail maker that has redeployed their industrial sewing machines to make medical masks.

With the streets of San Francisco empty, this drone pilot saw an opportunity.

As more people are working from home, dress code only applies from the waist up for the videoconference. Walmart shared that shirt sales are up but pants and skirt sales are down.

By the end of the week, after many were finishing a second week of sheltering in place, with the pandemic overwhelming NYC hospitals and looming over New Orleans, Today show host Hoda Kotb (a Nola native) broke down after interviewing New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees who just donated $5 million to help feed Louisiana during the crisis.

Hoda, in this moment, became all of us

In that brief moment, Hoda let out the gasp of raw emotion we’ve all been holding back. The sheer magnitude of the growing disaster we know we will face in the coming weeks must be met with acts of courage and generosity that we hope will be just as infectious as the virus we are fighting.

We can only beat this by working together like never before. More than any war, this is a global fight against a common enemy. More so than global warming which is abstract and distant the coronavirus is not only global but immediate. If there is any silver lining on the horizon, it’s that this threat to our way of life is bringing us together, around the world, to work as one, like never ever before.

Stay safe everyone.

Current Events

Fever Hotspots

Smart thermometer company Kinsa allows users of its product to upload their temperature readings along with their location via an app. In normal times, the US Health Weather Map is used to predict influenza trends and compare outbreaks to previous years.

But this year is not normal. Kinsa is suggesting that the Atypical tab on their map might be useful as a predictor for where the next Covid-19 breakout may occur.

As you can see on the map – it looks like the next hotspots after New York and New Jersey are the beaches of Florida (remember the Spring Breakers?) and, for some reason, two counties in Colorado.

Overall trend data for the United States also shows something is amiss.

Based on our data, influenza-like illness levels in the U.S. are higher than what we’d expect at this time of year. (Kinsa)

I’ll be watching this page and update when appropriate.

Current Events

Remote Teaching

Tyler is home from school. Boston University closed its dorms for the semester and his part time internship is on indefinite hiatus so he was forced to beat a strategic retreat back home.

As his fellow students rub their weary, time-shifted eyes to tune into yet another Zoom University class, there is also this perspective from the teacher’s point of view. What is it like to teach to an empty classroom?

“Welcome back from spring break,” Abrams booms, looking out at the rows of empty rust-colored seats. “To those of you in California, to those of you where it’s 3 am, you are my heroes, thank you for coming. It’s pretty lonely here in Boston. I miss having you in class. You have no idea how weird and empty this is.”

Remote Teaching and Learning in a Time of COVID-19

We live in interesting times. I still don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse.


The week that was

A law limiting a trucker’s driving time was suspended nationwide for the first time since 1938 to allow for emergency transport of medicine, supplies and food.

California issued a statewide “shelter in place” to slow the spread of the coronavirus. All but essential businesses were ordered to close. The San Francisco Department of Public Health was quick to point out that cannabis is an essential and marijuana delivery service Eaze noted a 38% jump in orders.

More traditional New York, also under a statewide shelter in place ordinance, will keep its liquor stores open. People are drinking something called a quarantini.

Lines were epically long at Costco and other supermarkets as households went into full on panic-buying mode. If you’re wondering where all the toilet paper went, you might want to go to North Carolina.

Other businesses sadly suffered including Powell’s Books in Portland and the Boba Guys in San Francisco.

A lawyer has decided to sue China for $20 trillion for causing the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With everyone working or studying from home we’ve all been catapulted into the ReadyPlayerOne society that used to just exist in science fiction. Video conferencing software Zoom has become the defacto way to connect. People now joke that they now know what the “Z” in Gen Z stands for. Some creative uses of technology include:

Marvel introduced the latest group of super heroes and reminded us how much comic books have changed.

  • Screentime can see augmented reality and real-time maps, and can “instantly Google any fact.”
  • Snowflake is non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns and throws snowflake-shaped shuriken.
  • Safe Space can materialize pink forcefields, but he can’t inhabit them himself.
  • B-Negative is a goth kid obsessed with all the music and attitude of a “classic” long-past decades like the ’90s.

I’m getting old.

The feature image, a render of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, is by Kris Tremblay.

Current Events

Shelter in Place


The week that was

Friday last week they canceled SXSW. I think at that moment something they may have been reading about started to impact their life. Silicon Valley collectively gasped.

There was other news, I had a few stories in the TWTW notepad. . .

An 8-year old in Canada entered a raffle contest at his local hockey league and won a gift basket of $200 worth of cannabis products.

Reporters Without Borders is using the online game Minecraft to distribute suppressed journalism past government censors.

A Ukrainian chess grand master and his girlfriend were found dead after inhaling too much laughing gas.

An Italian winery had a mishap with their water supply sending 300 gallons of their product into the town’s pipes. For a brief moment, water became wine.

As the week progressed, more stories mentioned the coronavirus.

Scientists used AI to develop an antibody that has been shown to be effective against bacteria that no existing drug can eliminate. They named it halicin after HAL 9000. Could it be used to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus?

Looking for their own coronavirus angle, lifestyle site, Askmen, did a piece on how to look presentable from the chest-up while working from home.

The TSA changed its rules and was now allowing up to 12 oz bottles of hand sanitizers on all flights. I took a flight and the Southwest flight attendant walked the aisle with a trash bag to collect used handi-wipes.

Mexico, worried about the spread of the virus from the US, is considering mechanisms to control the flow of people from North to South.

The International Antiviral Society conference in Boston was canceled because of the Coronavirus. The TV soap opera, General Hospital, stopped filming because of the virus as well. By the end of the week, over 70 TV shows had halted production. Perhaps in anticipation of growing interest in dystopian sci-fi, filming of the latest Batman and Matrix films are carrying on, without delay.

Other events were canceled.

On Wednesday night, the NBA postponed all games. The NHL and MLS and Champions League soocer soon followed and the MLB postponed opening day. The Boston Marathon was pushed back and the PGA Tour as well. The NCAA canceled the March Madness tournament and all other contests. 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is still scheduled to run as normal on May 2 but organizers are closely monitoring the situation.

The Phoenix Suns decided to play out the rest of their scheduled season online in the game, NBA 2K20 and stream matches via Twitch.

The Olympic torch relay has been delayed but Japan insists the Summer Games will go ahead as planned.

With many schools shutting down and teaching students online,m video conferencing company Zoom is letting schools sign up to their service for free.

In an abundance of caution, organizers of Sweatfest and Fluid Swap 2020 felt it best to hold off.

Los Angeles and San Francisco postponed trials in the courts. Apple closed all their stores and Patagonia shut down not only its stores but also it’s online business.

Louisiana and Georgia postponed their presidential primary elections (don’t worry, the president cannot postpone the general election).

England postponed their local and mayoral elections for a year.

Following in the footsteps of China and South Korea, Italy, Spain, and France all issued orders for a lockdown to limit their population’s movement. On the bright side, lockdown didn’t keep them from singing from their balconies),

I am hunkered down with the family; social distancing as they call it. Stay away from others, #flattenthecurve and lessen your chances of catching the virus at the same time as others so that our hospitals do not get overwhelmed. We’ve canceled dinners, went food shopping at the crack of dawn to avoid crowds, binged on HBO and Spotify. I will most likely be joining many others and working from home for the next few weeks.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and rest up for the days ahead.

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The week that was

New York City announced that the last few pay phones will be removed by the end of the month.

The crowdsourced science experiment [email protected] will pull the plug and stop scanning the skies for intelligent life. Maybe they found something?

Coronavirus panic hit Australia this week and the police had to be called in after a fight broke out over toilet paper. Rushing in to meet the need, a local paper started to include several extra blank pages for its subscribers.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society canceled its annual conference due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Research in England concluded that slow public transportation leads to poor school results.

The NHL will use a new type of hockey puck embedded with electronics that should help fans keep track of the tiny thing while watching a game on TV.

Hackers have figured out how to break into a phone sitting on a table with inaudible micro-vibrations that communicate via the phone’s voice control.

Fed up with having to change their clocks twice a year, the Yukon Territory in Canada will spring forward one last time and then call it quits.

A San Jose woman was crushed when she realized the plant she had been caring for tenderly for the past two years was a fake.

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