A few things

It’s been a while since i did one of these and my Pocket is filling up again. So…

It’s Springtime! (in the UK) and time to switch to BST. But this isn’t the correct way to put your clocks forward:

And this might work, but is also very confusing:

Pro-tip: Use a whiteboard marker and you can simply use a damp cloth to change the clocks back again in October.

Good news for me on this change is that evening football matches now kick off at a more reasonable time and so I can watch them and still get enough sleep (see below).

However, that good news is tempered somewhat by the fact that their Spring means our Autumn. And the weather has been doing its bit to remind us of the changing seasons. We’re losing 2 minutes of daylight a day in Cape Town each day at the moment, and we crossed the 12 hours daylight/12 hours nighttime line yesterday.

I was reminded of this Soy, Ginger and Chili salmon recipe today. I must cook it again. Today is all about the big boneless gammon joint on the hob, though. The whole house smell of cloves and all-spice (coincidentally also the name of the giant robot formed when all the Spice Girls zigazig-arred together like the Power Rangers). Delicious.

The future is bright: Sheffield United win the Professional Development League (North) for the third season running.

A fact made even better when you look at the whole league table:

LOL – mind the gap!

A Long Read about Long Covid here.

tl;dect (didn’t even click through) – risk of developing LC drops after a secondary infection (UK 4.0% to 2.4%), but that’s still not zero!

and just for reference, 2.4% of the UK population is one and a half million people. That’s a lot of potential cases, and a huge burden on individuals, families and the health service.

Covid really is just like the common cold.

I was out on a run earlier this week and was thinking about how I couldn’t even manage a staircase in the aftermath of my acute Covid experience. Things are clearly much, much better now, although it took over a year to get back to normality. That said: three things I have noticed post-Covid: I need more sleep, my lung capacity still isn’t what it was before, and my memory (which use to be very good) really isn’t as good any more. Especially on people’s names. Other random nonsense (phone codes, capital cities, song titles/bands) – generally fine. Names (famous ones or personal acquaintances) – nope.


Stop stacking rocks on beaches (and elsewhere), say SANParks.

…The problem is that people are increasingly building rock cairns to leave their mark or symbol of their presence in a natural setting or for posting on social media. Therefore, when engaging in this activity, it is important to be mindful of the potential negative impacts on the environment, wildlife and other people’s experiences.

Moving rocks and stacking them can disturb the natural habitat of tiny creatures. On the rocky shore, these organisms, such as crabs, molluscs, and algae, depend on their environment’s rocks and other structures for shelter and protection. By moving or stacking rocks, we may inadvertently destroy or disrupt their homes, harming their populations. Similarly, rock stacking can also have adverse terrestrial impacts on insects and moss in wilderness areas.

The article has a (terrible) picture of Agulhas National Park in it. So this is a local thing, close to my heart. And when the kids were younger, we did used to do this from time to time, albeit that our towers were built near the low tide mark, ready to be knocked down as the waves came in, and never for social media purposes.

Anyway. No more. Stoppit.

Lastly for today: a new way to filter flights on flightradar24. This is the update that everyone as crying out for. And it works. From being a very cool tool, its now also massively powerful. You can now get it to do whatever you want (and even more if you pay for a subscription). A lot of the features are in the free Beta version at the moment, but it seems to be stable and full rollout isn’t likely to be far away.

Summer daze and that virus…

It’s been a good start to the day. It does seem that we’re almost done with spring (aside from the pummeling SouthEaster), and summer has moved in already. Thus, I’m sitting outside listening to the radio, catching up on a few emails, paying a few bills and writing a blog post. The garden is full of flowers, and the lawn needs a water. The beagle, having been bathed this morning – much to its displeasure – is on patrol, snorfing around and chasing butterflies.

It’s an idyllic picture. So let’s ruin everything with a handbrake turn.

Looking back at that link above, I’m reminded that this time last year, we were approaching 600 days of Covid lockdown. Believe it or not, there’s still quite a bit of Covid about, although no-one is testing anymore, because of the time and the effort and the money involved – and why spend all that stuff when no-one seems to care? – so we can’t be sure exactly how much.

And so much for this being “jUsT lIkE tHe CoMmOn CoLd”, with this huge overhang of cardiovascular deaths and Long Covid (which is also vastly underreported).

This is just the easily measured tip of the iceberg…

As I mentioned here, I think that thankfully, I’m finally over my issues [touches wood]. But I recently heard from a acquaintance who is anything but. Shortness of breath, palpitations, tachycardia, cognitive issues, that fatigue, and many other issues: just a general loss in quality of life. Ugh. Horrible. In her case, it’s so bad that she’s been admitted to a local pulmonology ward, which is half full of chronic Long Covid cases.
I guess that they’re only based there because it stemmed from a respiratory disease: these are very clearly multi-disciplinary cases.

I realise that it’s hip and cool to poke fun at Covid; to suggest that it wasn’t [note the incorrect use of the past tense] that bad, to weirdly tell people that it was all a “new world order” plan to keep us all under control, (incredible to see how governments were so ready and willing to work together on this one issue when they clearly can’t agree on fuck all else, before or since), to downplay it completely because you didn’t get sick (yet).

If you’re the person making those sort of points, you’re clearly ignorant, uninformed and actually rather callous.

We’re nowhere near done with Covid yet. And yet you can’t get a booster jab in Cape Town for love, nor money. Not that the booster on offer will help much – we need the new bivalent jab over here as soon as possible.

For those who insist that Covid will become just another seasonal viral infection, well, I actually agree with you. I just have two questions: When will that happen, and what cost will it bring – in both acute and chronic caseloads?

Until we have the answers to those questions, we really shouldn’t be dropping our guard – as individuals or as a society – because there’s a good chance that we’re going to end up regretting it at some point.

Getting there

It does finally feel as if I am back to where I was pre-Covid. It’s taken a lot of patience and a lot of hard work – and it will continue to take a lot of hard work – but I do feel like I’ve crossed some sort of threshold.

My last three runs have all been inside 6:00/km, which is really as fast as I’ve ever managed to go anyway, and I’m not very close to dying like I was when I did that back in April. In hindsight, that was a fairly foolish effort, and I’m only half proud of what I achieved.

Run-wise, at least. Staying alive was a quite a coup.

Football is fun again, rather than impossible, and my legs ache because I’m exercising, rather than because they’re full of interleukins.

It’s only taken 15 months.

Blame the virus

There’s a worrying thing happening worldwide at the moment. Anecdotally, we’re seeing a lot more people suffering from – and/or dying from – cardiac problems. Generally, these people tend to be relatively young, and often relatively fit. Certainly not the cohort you would expect to be hit in this way.

Of course, the tinfoilers are all over this. After all, what has changed since the onset of the Covid pandemic? Yes, the vaccine. So that must be it, because there’s nothing else that has been so ubiquitously distributed around the world (ha!), so QED, the vaccine is causing the problem.

You actually have to admire their scientific approach. Indeed, when we as scientists are trying to find out what causes something, we too look at changes in the systems which precede that thing. In this case, what we would also consider is:


And lookie here: this German study suggests that infection with Covid – even if it’s a mild infection – is associated with heart problems down the line.

And, surprise surprise, they found damage to the heart and increased cardiac markers (the chemicals in the blood that we measure to see if there is damage to the heart) in previously healthy patients.

This is a study that still needs more work (indeed, it’s still ongoing), but the signs are clear. If you have had Covid, you are more likely to have cardiac damage than if you didn’t have Covid. And while in many cases, that might only manifest itself in shortness of breath or chest pain, there will sadly be some individuals who suffer much more serious consequences. See my first paragraph above.

These observations fit well with another study – importantly mostly done before the vaccine was widely released – in which a team based in St Louis, USA found some very disturbing results regarding cardiac and circulatory problems post Covid infection:

Importantly, the more severe the infection (they used non-hospitalised, hospitalised and ICU) the greater the increase in risk, but in virtually every situation, the risk of heart or circulatory disorders was increased in those who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

So when we’re out there considering whether to take our booster jab for Covid, please look beyond the anti-vax nonsense. Please ignore the shouty people telling you that “the jab is killing healthy, young people”. No. It’s the damn virus that’s doing that.

And if you want to be better protected against the damn virus, go get the jab.

Massive study suggests that masks cut coronavirus transmission by 19%

And when I say “massive”, I mean n = 20,000,000.
I mean 92 regions across 6 continents.
With some really novel and sensible statistical work on all those phat, delicious data cakes.

And when I say “19%”, I mean… well… 19%. But that’s a fair chunk as well.

Remembering that the means to getting out of this pandemic are multi-factorial, and follow the “Swiss Cheese” approach:

…whereby none of the measures we try will be 100% effective (some maybe not even close), but using several methods together, we can really limit the spread of infection.

It doesn’t seem like rocket science (because it quite literally isn’t) to work out that somehow limiting the range of someone’s exhalations will result in a reduction in transmission of a virus which we transmit when we breathe out. And yet mask mandates, such as they were observed anyway (something which this study allows for), are being dropped all over the world as we attempt to return to normal life, and to “live with the virus”.

This move was always coming – it has/had to – and I’m all for that return to normal life, but there really doesn’t seem to be any allowance made for the huge morbidity (and yes, the ongoing mortality) from Covid-19. Not just “Long Covid”: no, I’m still not back to full health, 11 months, almost R100,000 of medical expenses and 4 cardiac screenings on from my infection.

We’re still finding new ways in which this virus is affecting the health of people post infection, and many of them are debilitating, chronic conditions: effects on the immune system, diabetes, cardiac conditions etc. Which raises the questions of how many more syndromes related to Covid-19 infection we still don’t know about, and how we plan to deal with the burden on our healthcare systems:

Yes. Like that.

So while I completely understand (and support) a return to whatever passed for “normal life” BTV, sadly (and unpopularly), I don’t think we’re actually ready for that just yet, and it would be very sensible to continue to do everything in our power to limit transmission of the virus until we actually know what else it has in store for us.