Browsing covid 19

Vaccine appointment made!!!

June25

Lindsey and I are super excited to get our first vaccine shot in early July… which should mean we are fully vaccinated by mid-August. Once Portugal announced our age group was eligible we just had to submit our health number on the website. Then we got a text to confirm our appointment. The entire process took 5 minutes :).

Health care in Portugal is FUCKING amazing. We had an appointment with a pediatric doctor for Calico yesterday and he talked to us for an hour. No rush, he wanted to know everything. And, even though the appointment was at 4 pm he was ON TIME. It just makes me despise the entire American system even more. They should just call American health care “money” as there is no health nor any care happening within it unless you just get lucky.

I had a follow-up this week after my day at the Hospital and the experience was glorious. The doctor was perfectly on time and he had actually read everything in my file BEFORE MY APPOINTMENT. Have you ever had a doctor read anything about you before they meet you? Let alone review all the data??? Then, he went through all my numbers one by one to explain what they were in detail. He was not in a rush and it was a great chat. It makes me tear up just thinking about it because I actually feel like he cares and he spent time preparing for the appointment.

Fuck American “health care”.

No country is perfect and we had a bad doctor experience prior to the good one with Calico. But, the American system is a giant steaming pile of shit. It needs to be destroyed and rebuilt using the best parts of Europe and Asia. We have utterly failed as a country in this regard.

Update – I got my first one on July 6th, 2nd on August 3rd. And, Lindsey got her first one July 21st… almost there :)

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First quarter of a game that we can’t end.

June24

We are still in the first quarter of a game that we do not know how to end.

The reaction of the stock market has been fascinating. I’ve seen good arguments on either side. The sectors hit hardest are not zooming back, and those that should be the strongest are doing the best. But, they are still making some pretty big assumptions about the impact this is going to have on the economic system as a whole. Blaming retail traders for this bounce seems insane. The FED has signaled what they plan to do to backstop the economy and now the question seems to be will it work and will poor leadership prevent the action we need to safeguard things.

If the Republicans keep the Senate I could easily see them destroying the economy and sending us into another great depression. Moscow Mitch has already signaled he is willing to drive the economy off a cliff between now and January. Maybe the pressure will get to him, but maybe he doesn’t care.

When I look at the big picture it seems like it could easily take 5 to 10 years to retool the economy. I am hoping for a magical vaccine but that isn’t guaranteed in so many ways. If we lose 50% of restaurants and the food landscape changes how do you move all those jobs to new areas quickly. The USA might be in a terrible position now, but the fastest to rebound given how brutal and inhumane our society is.

I am excited about the political possibilities for 2020 and onward. I am hopeful that we get a new social contract if the Democrats can take the Senate and now be the idiots they usually are. I think the pain our country and the world is about to enter is going to be on such a massive scale that change will finally be possible. The scary thing is that change could as easily be backward toward fascism and fear as it could toward social progress.

What would I love to see?

  • Health care. The government needs to chop costs down severely and I don’t care how they do it. Our drugs should be the same cost as the EU, hospitals need standard costs for procedures, and we need to make health insurance both affordable but also COVER HEALTH EMERGENCIES. What is the point of insurance if you have a $10,000 deductible. So frustrating and backward.
  • Reimagine the police, split up their current duties to people trained to do them and every officer has to be re-evaluated in order to be hired. Traffic is now traffic safety (no fucking guns and give them hot pink cars), crime is handled by community safety, etc. Send people to help mentally ill people who know how to do that, and give them money to help those people (Reagen shut that all down). Help homeless people get back on their feet like Utah is doing.
  • College – Free or a very small cost for everyone. It would be great to look at technical schools and doing the same. If we want to make a play at high-end manufacturing we need that too.
  • Expand kindergartens to age 3 months. Colorado starting this push, just keep pushing the age down and hiring. Pay teachers more.
  • Maternity/Paternity – Paid 3 months by the gov, increase payroll taxes.
  • Paid Vacation- 3 to 4 weeks even with hourly jobs.
  • Unemployment System – We need to take a hard look at that system and how to help people get back on their feet with better skills. We don’t want people in despair and we want them adding to our tax base, can we do better? And, can we stop stupid states from punishing people for losing a job like Florida.
  • Retirement – Increase social security payouts by a good 25% and fix your stupid COL adjustments, increase payroll taxes, and close the silly loopholes for high earners.
  • Legalize weed everywhere.
  • If you are not going to increase the minimum wage you need to view the cost of food and housing as national security issues. Food is decent in the USA as you can get it cheap if you know what you are doing and learn to love hormones and antibiotics and animal and environment abuse. Housing is much harder. I’d love to see federal and state legislation to end the hold NIMBA and property taxes hold over housing cost.
  • Climate change needs a massive push on infrastructure and a revamp so much of how we operate our electricity and industry.
  • Reduce spending on the military by 30%.
  • Increase taxes on the upper class, and progressively tax dividends and interest payments. Start revamping taxes so that Americans make less but get 5x more from their gov.
  • Revamp capital gains to start at a 35% tax if it is held for under 2 years, then slowly reduce it down to 10% to 15% if held for over 10 years.
  • Stop allowing the police or whatever replaces them to run the city on fines. There are a lot of problems with city/state funding and where that money is coming from and incentivizing. I’d rather cities/states be run on weed/liquor/tobacco/lottery taxes than the cost to put a roof over someone’s head.
  • IRS – Increase funding to do audits.
  • EPA – Actually protect the environment and give them teeth to go after companies and seize stock ownership the more they violate.
  • SEC – More funding, and give them a share of the winnings in cases.
  • I’d love to see us pay government officials like the private sector. Our president should be making a few million a year minimum. Congress should be making 500k or more a year with a housing allowance. We make them whores for the private sector instead of efficient gov servants. Go look at Singapore and how they pay their people.
  • Get rid of the electoral college.
  • Let PR vote on if they want to become a state, same for DC.
  • Reparations – We need to talk about them. How can we equalize the economic damage done against the black community over the last 250 years? Not an easy answer.

A random list of ideas from over the years. We shall see what happens.

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May update from Spain…

May30

On Monday Valencia will move to Phase 2. The big change for me is the ability to do sport multiple times a day and without distance/time restrictions. And, kids will be allowed out anytime they want. The only remaining restriction is to not be outside for sport from 10 am to 12 pm and 7 pm to 8 pm so the 70+ demographic can have some exclusive time outside.

What else is new? Restaurants can open and be at 30% capacity indoors. They were allowed to open if they had a terrace a few weeks ago, but only at 50% capacity with space between tables. Most have stayed closed. The beach is going to open too. And, come July 1st Spain will open up foreign inbound/outbound travel.

What’s next for us?

We are thinking about doing a road trip to Southern France (once the borders reopen in July). We don’t plan to eat indoors, just outside. And, we plan to rent AirBNBs and cook most of our meals inside. We want to do a lot of hikes, eat some delicious things, see some history, and explore (I plan to do some bike rides!). We are still waiting to see if this makes sense, but it looks good so far.

Thoughts right now…

  • I look at what I see coming down the economic pipeline and I am dumbfounded with the stock market and some individual’s reactions. I do not think people see the absolute economic tsunami that is building and about to break over our heads. There is nothing to compare it with. With the data on Covid so far I do not see how you can keep operating any business that has people talking indoors and not expect this thing to spread like wildfire (schools, restaurants, airplanes, etc).  I am hopeful that contract tracing and massive testing could keep this from spreading… but so far I don’t see much promise there (esp with the Federal response in the USA).

  • I think the decision to shut down the economy to stop this from spreading was the right decision given the information we had at the time. That said, I am beginning to think that a response that pushes the young in front of this thing might make sense. It hurts me to say that… and I am still debating it in my head. Maybe by reopening schools, you infect the young and their parents who are the least likely to die from this. I don’t like it but I am having a hard time seeing other options right now in the USA… and possibly in Europe. The economy isn’t everything, but it annoys me when people think it is just about money.
  • I’ve been thinking about how restaurants could survive, can they partition off tables with massive individual filtration and airflow going up? Can governments push a bit of a Marshal plan to re-invent how we do public spaces?
  • I’ve been trying to look for a really good mask with a fan to provide better airflow. So far there are a few emerging but all sold out.
  • The 2020 USA election terrifies me. American society in its current state terrifies me. It is like spending 20 years watching a Volcano build and build… what is going to happen?
  • Watching a lot of people think we are going to go back to normal and that we beat this thing, and wondering what is going to happen politically and economically when they realize Covid isn’t going anywhere…
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Some things I am thinking about…

May15

What I find interesting about the current situation is that all the tools and knowledge we gained from past economic crises are not *super* helpful in our current situation. The modern globalized world has not really faced a global pandemic like this one. And, the way forward for the economy and society is a new path that is going to require experimentation.

 

It is easy to look at sectors like retail and restaurants that are getting destroyed at a speed we have never seen, but there are a lot of sectors that are slowly bleeding out. Taken as a whole this is as bad a situation as I could possibly imagine. Especially with a total lack of federal leadership in the USA. The EU has handled it better due to the design of their institutions but the division between the north and south is impacting a real response.

It is hard for me not to look at this situation and see parallels to the Great Depression and FDR revamping American society and government. Or, on a darker note the rise of Hitler and other dictators.

What worries me right now?

  • In March in the USA, 40% of households making less than $40k had lost a job. 33% of households in the USA make less than $40k.
  • Real unemployment right now is probably ~25%.

That is a crazy amount of pain inflicted on a lot of people and communities. And, if we undo the lockdown too soon we make it worse because Covid comes back and we have to start over… causing even more economic damage. And, if we don’t convince people it is safe they won’t go out.

Next, you have all the chain reactions that are slowly going to make things worse and take a long time to shake out the economic impacts. Especially when these are all happening at once instead of one sector is really hurt and the rest kinda ok.

  • Restaurants – A lot of restaurants are not going to open, and those that do have to figure out how to survive on xx% less revenue (even if states/cities open up the lack of trust in the gov and fear of covid is going to hurt). A lot will declare bankruptcy, thus making it near impossible for those owners to start a new business. All the industries that supply those restaurants suddenly might have 25% less business, food suppliers, wine/liquor suppliers, linin services, etc. They layoff people, people have less money, repeat, repeat.
  • Retail – The same problem.
  • Tourism and Travel Related – Just decimated. Airlines will be back but at what % compared to last year? 25%? 50%? And, for how long. Once again, more layoffs. Hotels too. Think of all the ripple effects downstream from those… This is a huge part of each State’s income too.
  • Hospitals – They are all going to lose massive amounts of money. All their elective surgeries have disappeared, at what pace they come back is going to be interesting. And, with the USA’s poor response it is likely they will have 20% of their hospital for Covid and as things spike watch everything happen again. Stories of nurses and doctors being laid off or having pay reduced during this crisis are emerging. Covid doesn’t pay the bills.
  • Doctors – Small practices don’t have many patients right now. They are going to start going out of business or having significant revenue declines.
  • Health Care Premiums – I am curious about what premiums will cost for 2021. The fun thing is we should find out a few weeks before the election I believe :). A ton of elective surgeries are being put off, but what is Covid care costing and will see the normal 3% to 5% increase. Or a 20% increase?
  • States – Income is down and they have balanced budget amendments and obligations. Goodbye teachers, cops, and firemen. More layoffs.
  • Universities – Loosing foreign and domestic students because they can’t reopen classes. Some could need States to step in to fill the holes.
  • Daycare – Absolutely vital for working parents, and already insanely unaffordable. How many are not going to be able to stay in business and reopen? How many are losing kids now both from fear and to cut down on costs? 40% of households making less than $50k a year use a daycare, a big chunk of them just lost jobs, can they still pay that bill or are we about to lose a ton of people from the labor market.
  • Oil – Ditto.
  • Trucking / Shipping – Duh.
  • Landlords – A lot of missed rent payments, a lot of missed mortgages. A huge swath of landlords are just normal people not big businesses and that is going to impact their spending and ripple out.

Things I am thinking about what comes next…

  • Are we going to nationalize the health care system in the USA? Or will they just keep giving it money they create and ignoring the nightmare that is our medical system?
  • The 2020 election…
  • Can the EU pull their shit together and build an actual union, or just kinda limp along until someone else tries to leave.

My hope is that Covid just kinda mutates and goes away like the magical ending of a Michael Crichton novel. Or, maybe we will get a true scientific breakthrough and get a vaccine to market that breaks all previous speed records. Or, maybe we can’t make a vaccine and we are living with this thing for a long time.

Maybe you live in interesting times and all of that.

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Spain’s quarantine eases up… now what?

May3

Spain reopened on Saturday to allow solo sport and some walks for adults. I got a nice 2-hour ride in and it was glorious :). Lindsey took a long walk in the evening, and Calico got to go out in the late afternoon. It was pretty busy as everyone was excited.

I am not sure what the plan is at this point, it seems unclear globally. I realize there are a TON of unknowns about the virus, but I am surprised how unclear the messaging is.

  • Do they want to manage ICU capacity while keeping an eye on the exponential growth of the virus?
  • Do they really think they can reopen without this thing going above R1?
  • Are they just hoping the mortality rate is 0.5% once more studies come out and they aim for herd immunity slowly to keep it below R1?
  • Do they want young people to get it while old people stay home to get faster herd immunity?

What is the plan? :)

Keeping it below R1 seems highly unrealistic with “lite” social distancing. We’ve been in 6 weeks of total lockdown in Spain and it is still hovering around R0.7 to R1.1. If you re-open the question isn’t will it go above R1, it is by how much IMO. The minute you open schools this thing is going to start spreading.

Our big decision right now is if we want to get a treadmill before the next lockdown.

And, a new bike I got on May 15th for Zwift usage (my bike won’t fit)…

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Kids allowed out!

April27

Sunday was the first day in around 6 weeks Calico was allowed outside. Lindsey took him to the park along with his bike, and I took him this morning. Kids are allowed out with one parent for one hour within 1km.

This morning it was like watching him at Christmas :). He was so excited to see grass and trees and just run free. I was too!

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Day 30: Once the lockdown is over…

April13

I like this video because is a good reference to the long term Republican strategy to destroy the American government and its ability to operate effectively. Watching the USA implode is disheartening on so many levels, and yet so expected at this point.

We’ve got another 2 weeks to go until maybe we can go outside here in Spain. We shall see if it gets extended again :). Data is looking better but this thing has a long tail.

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American leadership absent globally…

April13

From a Southeast Asia newsletter I follow:

I recently attended a webinar on Southeast Asian responses to the Covid-19 put on by the Singapore-based risk firm Vriens and Partners that ended when the moderator asked representatives of nine countries what offers of help they had received from US officials. Not a single participant could name any response from the US.

In the meantime, China has gone from the target of global outrage over its attempts to cover up the emergence of Covid-19 to mounting intensive efforts to stop it – not without scars – while the United States has completely abdicated almost any role. It is the most recent and most dramatic demonstration of Washington’s loss of global soft-power leadership.

Meanwhile…

China’s attempt to demonstrate soft power in the crisis – a bid to salvage its reputation – is a relatively new phenomenon, and despite its calculated generosity, it is hitting rough spots. Taiwan’s recovery, in the midst of China’s bullying the rebellious island, was hardly flattering. It is not having much success in erasing the fact that the virus originated in China and that it was China’s mishandling of the situation that allowed it to escape, causing tens of thousands of deaths, nor that as much as 40 percent of its test kits are defective.

Good read on China’s actions so far here. The world is changing, I do not want to see the USA abdicate its role.

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Trump and Republicans response to this crisis.

April6

Good writeup here. What frustrates me the most is how this is the result of 30+ years of Republican’s war on the government. They have systematically destroyed trust in an insition and hobbled its abilities at every turn. Then when it fails they point and say “see”, like Tonya Harding being caught with a crowbar in hand but trying to pretend they are blameless.

I know they really believe that smaller government is better, but that doesn’t mean you need to break every aspect of government. What is the end goal for them? Anarchy? Rich feudal lords who hold all power instead of government?

Thoughts are with medical personal right now admit the shortages of protection gear :(.

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Day 22 of 43…

April5

For good reason, they decided to extend the lockdown to April 26th. Our hope is they slowly relax it so that people can at least go out to walk, especially with kids.

Going without cardio is HARD, at about 2 to 2.5 weeks I hit a wall of just blah and really wanting to get some type of workout. It is too bad they sold out of treadmill and stationary bikes here so fast :). I workout daily with weights and some other stuff but it isn’t the same. I am impressed with how Calico is holding up so far, he wants to go out but understands we can’t yet.

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Day 18 of 30: Calico story.

April1

Calico was doing some kid’s yoga this morning in front of the TV. I sat down to eat and after a while, he said he was going to pause the TV to ask me a question. He paused the TV, walked over, sat down on the chair facing me and asked me, why are we in quarantine? I explained how diseases spread and he listened to me very intently. It was a little surreal. Then we talked about how much we were looking forward to biking outside and running in the park. He asked me if I would throw a frisbee with him when we could go outside. Then, he got off the chair and asked to watch the hungry caterpillar story on Youtube.

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Pictures From Lockdown :)

March26

We celebrated Lindsey’s birthday last week under lockdown. We are going to celebrate once we get clear of the lockdown too :). Lindsey made a really cool flour combo from some flour that fell on the floor. It gives Calico some fake sand to play with his trucks in.

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Day 12 of 30: Well, that escalated quickly.

March26

Jobs data is out… 3.28 million people filed for unemployment in the week ending on March 21st. The next week is going to be higher I would imagine. It is a good thing the Democrats got help for labor in the bill that should pass tomorrow. That buys us time to get this under control, flatten the curve, start testing people, build out red/green zones, and get back to work. I am curious to see if recovery is as fast and my guess is it depends on how well this bill supports SMB. Getting money to those businesses is going to be hard if there are too many steps.

We are doing well here. Spain is waiting to see the curve flatten. Grocery stores are well stocked and apart from wishing I could go on a long bike ride I am well. They extended the lockdown to 30 days which was expected. It isn’t the best news but it has to happen. Now we are wondering what happens at 30 days and I guess a big part of that is what the numbers look like then.

I was thinking today… what comes after this during the presidential election in the USA? I would imagine Trump goes into a full anti-China campaign, they did this, they gave us this, how do you stop someone running on fear and nationalism and racism? I don’t have much hope that Biden can counter that.

 

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Sadly… now is when political leadership REALLY matters.

March23

It will now take good political leadership to keep the economy on standby until we can reopen.

If this feels you with a sense of dread in the USA it should. Trump doesn’t know what he is doing and his team has screwed this up again and again. Even worse, some of his latest tweets indicate he and his team might overwrite health officials and reopen the country before the quarantine has time to work. Thus leading to massive ongoing economic destruction instead of one super painful period and a reboot.

Imagine if he tells the country we don’t need the quarantine after 15 days against the orders of the CDC and medical experts. Now you have the President saying one thing, health experts another, and states left trying to protect themselves individually. And, it becomes a partisan issue. Meanwhile, the economy can’t restart because Covid is still here and growing again, leading to the collapse of the medical system in some areas, and the ongoing fear and panic that create a long term economic depression.

The gov has the ability to make this a short term crisis and one that has 1/50th the impact on our economy. Now let’s hope they do it :).

I am cautiously optimistic. Why?

Because it has to get through a Democratic house and a Republican Senate. The Democrats won’t let the workers of the USA down, meaning payments to people and boosting the shit out of unemployment payments. They might have to back down on some of the corporate controls because we need speed, but I think both sides will try to find a way to bailout SMBs fast with blank checks. And, Congress as a whole has a ton of institutional experience with this due to the big financial crisis. And, because this is artificial I’ve seen comments on both sides that they might be more willing to use some more abstract funding strategies that won’t add to debt (distant hope they mint a $2 trillion dollar coin).

Because State governors are for the most part competent. And, already taking steps the Federal government should have taken weeks ago. They need money and support, but their leadership has so far been far better than Trump.

Because the Fed is run by super smart people who know what they are doing and have a ton of institutional exp given the last crisis. Just listen to a quarterly briefing, they know what they need to do and just need Congress to approve a few things outside their mandate. Amazing people.

Because we have an election in November. Americans are going to vote Trump out of office. He is one of the worst presidents we have ever had. And, he is responsible for this failed response to a pandemic. I despise Joe Biden, but hopefully, he announces Warren or Sanders as a VP and a team to rally the entire left around.

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Day 6 and 7: Feeling the quarantine.

March22

Well… I have one more Ikea thing to build and then I am all out of Ikea stuff… you know what that means… here’s Benny!

We are having a total break from the news over the weekend, it has been quite nice. Basically that means you can’t read anything on the internet :). I spent a lot of time reading this weekend and playing with Calico. And, the sun finally came back to Valencia so we laid in front of it for 20 minutes or so.

 

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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