Fandango’s Provocative Question (15 April 2020)

Wednesday. Fandango’s Provocative Question once again. This week, a multi-parter.

Are you currently living in an area where there are stay-at-home orders? If so, do you think that it is wise and safe to lift the stay-at-home orders as early as May 1st? How soon after such stay-at-home orders are relaxed will you discard “social distancing” practices and return to the same social behaviors you exercised before this pandemic changed the way we live?

As I write this, I have already read a couple of other responses, I’m afraid this one will just be more of the same.

Let’s get the easy bit out of the way. Yes, I am in lockdown. I’m not staying at home in the strictest sense, because I am lucky enough to live rurally. I’m able to walk up the street, and I won’t see anyone. So, the home bit is incidental, but I am being careful to isolate myself from other people as much as possible.

On to the nuts and bolts, I’m afraid this is going to be a technical answer. Here is what we have seen regarding new infections in China:

Unfortunately, the scale is quite large because of that one big spike. Just ignoring that spike, the graph shows that the peak was at the start of February, and the cases had tailed off significantly by the start of March. About a month. And in the last week or so, we’re starting to hear reports of the lockdown being lifted in Wuhan, so about eight weeks from peak to lift? Now, let’s look at Italy:

Okay, the scale is much smaller, but you see the same kind of shape. They reached a peak in mid-March, and three weeks later there are still a big number of new cases. Just for good measure, Spain:

So, maybe peaked in the last week of March. Three weeks later again, still a significant number of new cases.

So, two months to drop a lot, and two and three weeks to drop significantly, but to still have lots of new cases. Now, let’s look at the USA:

Now, hopefully the USA peaked about a week ago, but to get the economy moving again by the start of May? That’d be about 3 weeks post-peak. About the same as where Spain is right now. That’s optimistic. I’d be more likely to put my money on the end of May, and even that is pretty optimistic.

But I’m afraid my other prediction is that it won’t stop Trump’s supporters from loving him. If the goal here is to show that Trump and his supporters are living on a different planet, well … we knew that already.

One scenario that might be interesting, though is if Trump starts sending people back to work, and they just ignore him. Or, if the USA gets a fresh outbreak. I wonder if any of that will damage him?

Okay, last part, lockdown has not really changed my behaviour much. Even before, I used to go out only three or four times a week anyway. And I seem better able to cope with this isolation than a lot of the people I speak to. Certainly some of those trips out, like my charity work, I’d be happy to do straight away.

And, there’s no point being squeamish about buying groceries, because we have to do that.

I think the things that might make me anxious, though, would be places like coffee shops – a big room full of people. That might take a little longer – the month after lockdown is lifted will be the interesting time, because that’s when any new cases as a result of lifting the lockdown will start to show. So I think I’ll certainly be looking at graphs like these to satisfy myself that it is safe to be out there.

And note, I’m only looking at new cases at the moment. I’m not looking at deaths. Because I believe that deaths will follow that same curve as new cases, but will lag behind then by a couple of weeks. If there are no new corona cases, then there will be no resulting deaths.

Rotten Pot

Written for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), potpourri.

He’s done it again! The other day, he gave us one French word which has crept into the English language, and today he gives us another!

This one had me stumped, because I did not know the word pourri. But, hey, that is what Google is for! So I found that:

Pot=Pot (I knew that one!)
Pourri=Rotten

Okay, a rotten pot? I suppose I could get there. Potpourri is mostly dried flowers. I guess you could fit that. They were once living things, now they have been dried, so I suppose one might call that rotten.

There’s a far more interesting answer, though, that I picked up from Wikipedia:

Way back in the Napoleonic wars, French troops were fighting in Spain. The Spanish had a stew, which was basically made up of all sorts of everything; a real mish-mash. The soldiers took this recipe back to France, where it was called pot pourri. I guess that’s a reasonable explanation, too.

Diabetes Spreadsheet (2)

A couple days ago I posted my diabetes spreadsheet, in case anybody finds it useful. This post is a continuation, so if you are not interested, please save your time and skip this post.

If you are interested, and you missed the other post, it is here, along with a link to the spreadsheet itself.

I said the other day that I would post about the second tab, so here goes (it’s easier than the last post):

If you open the spreadsheet in Excel, and look along the bottom, you see two tabs. The default tab is called Data, which we discussed last time. The second tab is called Calculations. This tab contains data which the macro uses to make its calculation. So straight away, if you’re not interested, you can just leave this tab alone.

If you are interested, though, I will explain:

The spreadsheet supports either of the two units worldwide, mmol/l and mg/dl. In fact, the two are related by a simple formula, just like, say, C and F. The two are related such that:

1 mmol/l = 18 mg/dl

in other words:

1 mg/dl = 1/18 mmol/l

So the first thing you see is a table of possible units, alongside the factor needed to get from one unit to the other. 1/18 = 0.055556. If you change these numbers, you will mess up the calculation. This data is cells B2:C3, on the Calculations tab.

The second item on this tab is just a reminder of what primary units you have selected. We talked about primary units last time, so I won’t drone on again. In practise, this value is just copied from the previous tab. This is cell B6 on the Calculations tab.

The last thing on the Calculations tab is a kind-of key. When the macro fires, it ends up reading data in certain columns, and writing some data into different columns. The macro needs to know, therefore, what column to read/write such-and-such a piece of data from/to. On the Calculations tab, the cells D9:D17 define these columns.

In that way, you can add your own columns to the spreadsheet, if you want, just so long as you update these cells too.

In the same vein, the way the macro works is to look back fifty days, and work out what the first cell is that it needs to include. To do this, it starts off at one row, then looks back at the previous row, then the previous row, and so on. This approach allows you to have as few or as many entries as you like. But by looking back one row at a time, there is a danger that the macro will count beyond the end of the data. So, you need to tell it where the end of the data is.

On the Calculations tab, Cell D18 tells the macro which the first row is that holds data. In the initial case, it is Row 5. But again, you can add your own rows (or remove mine) to the top of the spreadsheet and, so long as you update this cell, the calculation will still work.

Lastly, you know I mentioned that averages were calculated over the last fifty days? Well, the reason I chose fifty was just that it seemed like a decent length of time, but not including dates which are so far back, they might not be relevant. In fact, when you have your HBA1C blood test, this is also an average over the last couple of months.

But, if you have a better idea, you can change this. On the Calculations tab, Cell D20 contains the number of days to go back. If you change this number, the calculation will still work, but you will need to recalculate every row again.