Categories
Ireland

How many cars are on the road?

If you go along to the Transport Infrastructure Ireland website right now you’ll find a map of Ireland with lots of green dots.

These are the locations of cameras recording the volume of traffic on the road. It’s been interesting looking at some of the roads around Cork during the last year. Here are a few charts of traffic on the N20 between Blarney and Cork.

In January traffic maxed out at 1200 vehicles a day in the early morning with a similar bump in the evening.
February was similar, with slightly less vehicles per day.

The Covid-19 Lockdown bit in March. Schools closed on March 12th, pubs closed soon after. Most people who could were working from home. It made a big difference to daily traffic into Cork. From a high of 1200 vehicles in January to 400 in April.

In March only 800 vehicles a day made the journey into Cork. The 2km rule was introduced.
April was worse. The number of vehicles halved. Only 400 vehicles made the journey.
There was a very slight increase in traffic in May to 500 vehicles a day.
June saw a return to March numbers. 800 vehicles a day.
July was similar. Slightly more than 800 vehicles a day.
August isn’t over yet but numbers are slightly down again to less than 800 vehicles a day. Schools return at the end of the month so that will probably make a small bump.

How does this compare to last year? Here are the charts for July and August 2019.

July 2019 when almost 2000 vehicles travelled the road between Blarney and Cork.
August 2019 when Irish people went abroad and the country was noticeably quieter. 1100 vehicles a day.

It’s interesting to see those charts. The lockdown caused a huge drop in traffic as expected. Emissions from cars were down this year of course but agriculture remained the same so our impact on the environment didn’t change much. It’ll probably be worse as people use their cars rather than take public transport.

Out of curiosity I looked at the traffic volume going into Dingle from the Inch Strand side of the peninsula for July this year and last year. There wasn’t much of a change. 500 cars a day passed there in 2020 while only an extra 100 cars made the journey in 2019. They’ll be happy about that in Dingle!

Categories
Ireland

Anyone for Takeaway Pints?

Along with what seemed like a large portion of the country I stayed in Dingle recently. The town was packed. We stayed in a B&B on the edge of town and every day around noon the road outside was a traffic jam of cars snaking through the town. Most people wore masks in the shops but of course there were a few rat lickers too.

I did notice that a lot of people had several empty pint glasses on their tables, and while they may have eaten a €9 meal there was no sign of food. I spotted a happy young couple cross the road with plastic glasses of beer and sit down by the statue of Fungi. It was upsetting given what’s happening with Covid-19.

Now we’re in lockdown again. It’s not the same lockdown we experienced from March onwards but people became lax, and the virus made it’s way into factories. Multiple outbreaks in meat processing plants locked down 3 counties last week. Yesterday the news nationally wasn’t good:

  • 1 death and 190 cases confirmed.
  • 76 are men and 111 are women
  • 75% are under 45 years of age
  • 75 are confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case
  • 14 cases have been identified as community transmission
  • 48 are in Kildare, 46 in Dublin, 38 in Tipperary, 20 in Limerick, 7 in Clare and the rest of the 31 cases are in Carlow, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.

And so the restrictions:

  • All outdoor events will be limited to 15 people, down from 200, under strict new limits on public gatherings agreed this afternoon.
  • Under the restrictions that will remain in place until 13 September at the earliest, indoor events will be limited to six people, reduced from 50, except for businesses such as shops and restaurants, which are subject to separate rules.
  • Weddings will be exempt from the new restrictions, meaning they can go ahead with 50 people.
  • The measures agreed by Cabinet will mean that matches and other sporting fixtures will have to take place behind closed doors.
  • Gardaí will be given new powers to enforce rules around social gatherings, particularly in restaurants or bars serving food, and in private homes.
  • Under the measures agreed by Cabinet, people will be advised to work from home and to avoid using public transport, unless absolutely necessary.

Which leads some to say the GAA should encourage weddings at their matches so 50 people can watch.

Still confused, here’s a clear explanation.

These graphs are not good are they?

Schools open soon. Hopefully we can reduce the community spread or we’ll be closing schools within a month.

Oh yes, watch out for Storm Ellen tonight. There’s a status red warning for Cork!

Categories
Health

5km From Home

From today people in Ireland (south of the border) can go up to 5km from home to exercise. The over 70s who have been cocooning at home are allowed out but warned to stay well away from anyone else.

How far is 5km? Go visit this site and allow it to use your location to find out!

On Friday it was announced the country would have five phases to go through towards opening up:

  • Phase 1: 18th May
  • Phase 2: 8th June
  • Phase 3: 29th June
  • Phase 4: 20th July
  • Phase 5: 10th August

Find a PDF of it here.

Meanwhile G O’D and her cronies are back in the High Court protesting the lockdown.

The Phoenix Park, a huge park in Dublin, had to be closed because of a protest against the lockdown.

I guess they’re not as bad as the Right in the USA. At least they don’t have access to weapons in Ireland.

There are plans to pedestrianise streets and make one-way footpaths in Cork.

Pub owners want to open sooner than August. How the hell will drunk people socially distance?

Normal People is causing quite a stir.

During the Irish Famine in the 1840s the Choctaw tribe in North America sent money to help feed starving people in Ireland.

The Navajo Nation is now looking for help and Irish people are putting their hands in their pockets and reaching out!

I was so sad to hear of the death of Sam Lloyd who you’ll recognise from Scrubs. 🙁
This baby will brighten your day!
Amazing Irish dancing by Morrghan! Puts any attempt I made in my teens to shame. 🙂

Do you remember the ILOVEYOU virus? I do and 20 years ago it infected 45 million computers and it originated somewhere surprising. Geoff White tells all!

Are you distracted? Of course you are. Me too. Go listen to the latest Distributed podcast. Matt interviews neuroscientist Dr. Adam Gazzaley and it is well worth a listen.

I went for a cycle the other night and for some reason Sophie Ellis Bextor’s “Stay At Home” was running through my brain the whole time. Probably the sight of Garda checkpoints. Good to see them.

Scott Berkun has released his new book in the middle of a pandemic!

We’re all locked down. Blarney Photography Club can’t meet any more but tonight we had a great presentation by Zoom. I thought it worked really well!

Categories
Ireland

Some Good News

In the future memes will be an exam subject.

I have to say, Some Good News with John Krasinski is a breath of fresh air in this time of quarantine and isolation. John picks up on good news stories from around the world and you’ll have to have a heart of stone not to laugh or cry or both watching them.

There’s the first episode but there are currently 2 more and all are worth watching.

Lanzarote

Last Friday they held an SGNProm live on Youtube but I missed it. It was scheduled for one o clock in the morning my time! Hopefully the next episode will have clips from it. Coincidentally I started watching The Office (US) last week. I watched a couple of episodes before but it didn’t stick. I think we’ll be making it a regular watch from now on though. 🙂

Conor Pass, Kerry.

I’ve worked from home for almost 15 years now. It’s not always easy, and the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown in Ireland made me realise how cut off I am from other people. I’m not an especially outgoing kind of person but this enforced stay-at-home order is even getting to me. Two to three times a year I travel somewhere to meet my team or the rest of the company but all company travel is cancelled now for the foreseeable future.

Easter celebrations, Malaga.

I and many others have the luxury and privilege to work from home while there are millions of people sitting idle or bored in their homes. I sit here at my screen but there are health workers risking their lives fighting a disease that looks like it will be a part of our world for the next two years at least.

Indoor Market, Malaga.

Shows on TV are now watched with from the perspective of Covid-19. People have the luxury of shaking hands or hugging. People are so close to each other! They can walk into a store 2 at a time! They’re meeting for a drink! That’s a very crowded train!

A sea of faces, St Patrick’s Day 2019, Cork.

BTW – You should subscribe to Damien Mulley‘s newsletter. Here’s the latest issue.

I’m looking forward to listening to Mike Murphy interview the Irish President, Michael D Higgins in the first episode of Senior Times.

Flash Harry, 2019, Cork Opera House.

The Sunday Times has an explosive article today on the incompetence of the British Government.

It’s behind their paywall but my wife has bought the paper on and off for the last few years so I went searching for it today. No sign of it in the two local shops and I wasn’t going to risk going to any more just for a newspaper. We did sign up for the 7 day free trial of their app and I have to admit it looks great. The in-app purchase is easier to cancel than a sub on their website which requires a phone call.

Also: The eleven days that may have tragically cost the UK in the fight against coronavirus.
Also: Why is coronavirus killing so many more people in the UK than in Ireland?

The This Won’t Hurt a Bit podcast is back with two more episodes on Covid-19. Their first episode on March 24th reminded me of the fake cures doing the rounds on Facebook back at the start of March. Drinking warm water to flush any virus from your throat into your stomach to kill it was a favourite but it was oh so stupid.

Fuck what’s happening in the United States.

Kevin Cunningham used Python and R to extra raw data from the Google mobility PDFs released recently. It clearly shows Irish people stayed at home!

The Covid-19 curve has been flattened in Ireland

Simon Harris, Minister for Health, warns us to get complacent.

In the US protestors want the stay-at-home restriction to be lifted. Some obviously are worried for their livelihood but many others believe the whole thing a hoax.

Edit some days later: SGN had a great update from their prom!

Categories
Ireland

The Price of Petrol

The price of petrol in my local filling station in Blarney now stands at €1.259/litre. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low here before. The Blarney station isn’t the cheapest in the area but I haven’t visited anywhere else in almost a month. I’ve been told the price went as low as €1.199 elsewhere in the city.

The last time I filled up was about three weeks ago when I remember using a latex glove to hold the pump handle. I’d normally use sanitiser anyway but it seemed prudent to be extra careful. The price then was €1.299/litre, not far from the price when I started recording my fuel usage in 2010 when it was €1.289/litre!

We’re only allowed travel for necessities like shopping, work or caring for others. There are Garda check points. There were reports of Dublin and UK reg cars in West Cork last week prompting the Taoiseach to ask people not to travel. People are sent home again. There’s hardly any air travel. Dublin airport reported only 900 people passed through the airport on Easter Monday when normally there’d be 100,000.

On Monday evening there was only one aircraft flying over Ireland, and that was the coastguard helicopter.

The fall in price wasn’t due to COVID-19, but that contributed to it. Demand for oil was slowing down already but from my experience the price was still at €1.399/litre in early March, and that was probably at one of the cheaper places. The Russians and Opec were having a price war. Opec wanted to reduce pumping but the Russians ignored them and continued pumping. It seems now there was a deal two days ago so we might see prices jump again.

Restrictions are going to continue until May 5th and of course we all know they’ll go on for longer. A vaccine for general use won’t be available until next year so we’ll have to learn to live with it.

My son plays Minecraft with a friend in Sweden who is still going to school. We’re wondering why since schools here have been closed since March 12th. They think that children aren’t super spreaders so there’s no need to close them.

While other countries, or rather, their inhabitants, struggle with varying levels of lockdown, Sweden has relied on relatively few recommendations to try and prevent the spread of the virus.

Nursing homes have been closed to visitors, higher education has been moved online and there’s a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

Authorities have also encouraged people to work from home and to avoid unnecessary journeys.

But primary and secondary schools up to the age of 16 remain open, as do hairdressers and gyms, and restaurants and bars can stay open once they offer table service to avoid crowding at counters and bars.

A large emphasis has been placed on personal responsibility, and anyone with symptoms is asked, and trusted to self-isolate.

But is the strategy working?

As of today, over 1,000 Swedes have died from Covid-19, an increase of 114 deaths on the previous day’s figure and around 11,440 have been infected, out of a population of 10 million.

I went out for a cycle. The roads are much quieter. It was lovely. It almost felt normal because I was well away from the few people walking around. I heard birds singing.

Categories
Health

Memories of the now

Diego is happy to stay inside. Be like Diego.

I started writing about what’s happening with Covid-19 on St. Patrick’s Day this year and I said I was writing for future me. While it’s impossible to capture everything I see and experience this post my cousin shared on Facebook (author unknown) covers most of the major events of the last month.

Sharing this for my future self ❤️
Schools and Creches close 12th March 2020
All pubs and clubs close 15th March.
No St Patricks Day Parade
Lockdown begins in Ireland midnight 27th March 2020
Fuel prices dropped a record amount (now €1.12/litre)
Self-distancing measures on a rise.
Tape on the floors at food stores and others to help distance shoppers 2m (6ft) from each other.
Limited number of people inside stores, therefore lineups outside the store doors.
Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.
Parks, trails, entire cities locked up.
Entire sports seasons cancelled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
Funerals limited to children/parents/spouses of deceased. No other family or friends.
No masses, churches are closed.
No gatherings permitted.
Don’t socialize with anyone outside of your home.
We are to distance from each other.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Shortage of respirators for the critically ill.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer.
Shelves are bare.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE.
Government closes the border to all non essential travel and makes it mandatory to self isolate for 14 days when returning.
Fines are established for breaking the rules.
Fines for those price-gauging others.
Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
Press conferences daily from the Government.
Barely anyone in the street or on the roads.
People wearing masks and gloves outside.
Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
Medical workers are afraid to go home to their families.
Many people placed on leave and unable to work with the government paying 80% of their wage.
They say it started in Wuhan, China at a seafood market. Hundreds of thousands affected, dead, dying, critically ill. Many recovered.
This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.
Why, you ask, do I write this status?
One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious. To not take the things we dearly love for granted.
We have so much!
Be thankful. Be grateful.
Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone. ❤️

From Facebook post, author unknown.

Not everything there is accurate and obviously what is, only applies to Ireland. There isn’t a strict 14 day quarantine on people arriving in the country. People are asked to self isolate for that time but there’s no follow-up AFAIK. We’re all self-isolating now anyway.

The PPE that arrived from China turned out to be ill fitting, too small and of poor quality. I hope subsequent shipments were better.

A Facebook post by a nurse described all that was wrong and upsetting about it.

A SHOCKING MESSAGE FROM A VERY CONCERNED NURSE:

Hello
I’m wondering if you’ll post this message. I’m a nurse in one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country.
Today I and my colleagues came to work and were supplied with the three quarter sleeve gowns shown on tv to look after Covid patients.
We put up a huge battle with our manager who insisted that the gowns offered adequate protection and were standard now countrywide.
Infection control just told us to practice our hand hygiene even more thoroughly and wash our arms.
We were put in the most awful of dilemmas. Some of us resorted to taping our arms up to the sleeves of the gowns. ( it doesnt work, the tape split and was difficult to remove safely)
The rest of us continued to protest until a small supply of proper long sleeve gowns were found. Those who protested more loudly were given the gowns. Those who were afraid of overpowering management relented and had to wear the short sleeve gowns.
Today was a fucking nightmare.
The very managers marching us into covid positive rooms will never have direct patient care.
We know they wouldn’t dare put themselves at risk but it’s ok to put our lives and our families lives at risk.
Senior consultants are protesting over poor quality PPEs and the use of surical masks with Covid patients but even their voices go unheard over the suits in management who have business degrees but who have absolutley no qualifications in looking after patients or in infectious diseases.
I’m telling you this because the truth needs to be told. Jesus I thought we were at rock bottom before but never more so than we are now.
We are forced to wash goggles after each use. (Not enough to go around.) We are told that surgical masks are fine even when pts are coughing terribly and are on nebulisers. (Not enough FFP3s in supply)
And now we are given gowns that either have no sleeves in them or we have the option of plastic gowns that only cover the front of our bodies. Our upper chest area and backs are completely open.
Every nurse, doctor and healthcare worker who provide direct care to covid pts in Ireland is terrified right now. The stress alone is killing us.
We all have families to go home to.
We are all aware of the now high level of covid positive staff in our hospital and yet they continue to force us into wards and rooms without adequate protection therefore risking our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
What infuriated all of us even more this evening was the director general of the HSE, Paul Reid stating that the PPE’s “just look different”.
The fucking neck of the man. Who does he think he’s fooling?
Would you send a riot policeman into a riot wearing a straw hat and tell them it just looks different?
It’s an insult to all our intelligence and it’s placing a huge amount of lack of trust in management at a time when we should feel confident that they’ll keep us safe.
Some of us are now in tears in work. All of us are petrified. None of us are sleeping well. We are all willing to care for Covid patients, that’s our job but for the love of God provide us with the equipment to do so. Don’t let any of us risk lose our lives doing so.
We may be considered angels but we are all highly qualified medical staff with families who we love dearly and we are being forced to do the unthinkable.
The rest of the worlds healthcare workers wear hazmat suits with covid patients . We don’t have that luxury but for Christs sake please please don’t let them take chances with our lives by forcing us to wear shoddy PPE’s.
We are all worth so much more than that even if they don’t think so.
Thank yo for letting us tell the real truth.

An incredibly stressed nurse on behalf of all my incredibly stressed colleagues on the frontline.
(Ps I aplogise for my use of bad language.)

My friend David works as a nurse in Wales. He and his colleagues face the same issues with PPE.

The Falkland Islands reported their first case. They were one of the few regions on the planet without one.

Many countries now want people to wear a mask when they go outside. The American CDC recommends their use. There’s a “no sew” mask you can make yourself but it might not be that effective.

Using masks is unlikely to be of any benefit if you are not sick.

Sick people will be advised by their doctor when to use a mask. Healthcare workers need masks and other personal protective equipment to protect them from infection during their work.

On the other hand you can be infectious for several days without symptoms so wearing some sort of mask that stops you breathing or coughing particles in an enclosed space like a grocery store might be worth it.

This is heartbreaking.
What kind of monster makes a lewd joke while talking about the projected deaths of thousands of people?
Finally, some good news!

Meanwhile the 5G conspiracy nuts are burning down 5G towers in the UK thinking it’s causing Covid-19. Here’s a video. Check out the replies.

Also, Kirstie Alley questions who is behind releasing the virus. Argh!

This Covid-19 vs average cause of death graph is frightening because Covid-19 accelerates so fast.

Categories
Health

Coronavirus Rhapsody

Mama, I just killed a man
I didn’t stay inside in bed
I walked past him, now he’s dead.

I don’t wanna die
I sometimes wish
I never went out at all.

Thanks Paolo.

Categories
Health

The new normal

A month is a long time, an advert on the February 27th Naked Scientists podcast was run by the Local Enterprise Office here in Ireland for “Local Enterprise Week” at the beginning of March to “help local business grow in 2020”. I wonder will people become wary of meeting others after this pandemic is over? I’m slowly catching up on my podcast backlog. Many are being recorded at home or even on a park bench as happened with the March 16th episode of Planet Money.

Schools in Ireland closed on March 12th, so we’ve been at home since then. New restrictions were introduced on March 27th, as summarised by Gavin Sheridan:

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced:

1. For two weeks, to April 12, everyone to stay at home in all circumstances (except essential services, shopping, medicines, care for relatives, brief exercise)
2. All public and private gatherings of any number of people banned.
3. All non-essential shops closed.
4. All community centres closed.
5. Shielding introduced to all over 70s.
6. All visits to offshore islands banned.
7. No travel outside of 2km of your home (except reasons above), for any reason.

New restrictions announced

It has made a noticeable difference. I haven’t left Blarney since then. Even before that I had curtailed how much I walk but now it’s a quick walk around the park with the dog in the morning and evening. Pokemon Go gyms have been relatively stable. There’s one by the River Martin that hadn’t been attacked for over 100 days until mid-March but because more people were staying “close by” they were walking down there. That has stopped now and the gym hasn’t been touched in 7 days.

Google Fit knows I’m not going anywhere

Blarney Woollen Mills is blocked off, but you could still get in to the grounds there if you hopped over a low wall. One of the gyms in there remains untouched after 15 days!

Blarney Castle Garden was open until a few days ago, but the new restrictions closed them.

Dave Bolger created a site called 2kmfromhome.com where you can find out how far you can exercise. Simply launch it on your phone and allow it access to your location. It will then display a map around you with a circle where you can go.

Work on the construction site across the road from my home has ground to a halt which we’re grateful for. The road outside is still clogged with dust and of course they never clean it up properly.

PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, is a phrase that has entered everyday language. Every country has shortages of it but Aer Lingus are flying to China to pick up PPE worth millions of Euro.

If I remember correctly the Government expects to buy €225 million of it over the next months. Unfortunately the latest flight had to return and make an emergency landing after a bird strike.

People are queuing outside shops because the stores have limited how many people are allowed in at one time. Going shopping is stressful. People jump back from you if you get too close. This thread on Reddit compares it to a survival game.

Last Week Tonight was filmed at home. Other American talk shows are too. Ryan Tubridy presented a couple of episodes of The Late Late Show without a studio audience but a few days ago it was reported he had tested positive for Covid-19. Miriam O’Callaghan took over last week’s show. Irish radio shows are being recorded at home. My wife rang the bank this morning. The woman she spoke to is working from home and thought it was weird. She’ll get used to it.

Chris Hadfield offered advice for people staying at home

In a sure sign that people are getting used to this new normal some on Twitter were worried that bots were congratulating and supporting the government on everything they do. I somehow doubt that’s happening and others have pointed out that it’s really hard to get a Twitter username without trailing numbers unless you come up with something unusual. I bet there are a whole lot of new Twitter users now looking for the latest news.

Concern that Twitter bots are supporting the government.

Fine Gael are no saints and they’ve made lots of mistakes in the past but they deserve our support at this time.

the state hospital
with one bed

always full
always efficient

Even Jim Corr, he who fights the New World Order and the evils of 5G had choice words for Paddy Cosgrave who is repeating all sorts of nonsense and lies. Quite a moment.

There are two many cases where people have spat at Gardai and told them they are infected. A father and son in Cork did this and were arrested. A woman in Dublin did the same.

I saw on Twitter this morning that a 13 year old boy died of Covid-19 in London. Heartbreaking. 🙁

If you have a few minutes write a letter to Andrew McGinley. In January he found his 3 children dead in the family home. His wife was found nearby and has been charged with their murders. Andrew is feeling the effects of isolation.

He is getting lots of post but this one just breaks my heart.

Amidst all that WordPress 5.4 was released. Yay!

I love the header image on r/Ireland.
I love these Zoom backgrounds.

FYI – the first case of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland was reported in late February, with the first case in the Republic two days later on February 29th.

News from Italy is still dire but they seem to be slowly flattening the curve there. 17 more died in Ireland yesterday from the virus. 🙁

Categories
Health

Making Plans for the Weekend

You’ve probably seen this one already:

Or it might look like this:

I was going to write a post featuring that image because Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced yesterday that everyone in the Republic of Ireland must stay at home with very few exceptions in an attempt to stop COVID-19. There’s an increased Garda presence with motorists likely to be stopped and asked where they’re going. Exercise must be taken within 2km of home.

The image used in the meme above isn’t great. Every time I saw it the floor plan was blurry while the text was pin sharp so I wanted to know if there’s a better version available.

Looking for that image I think I found the first or perhaps very early use of it on Reddit.

That image is a paltry 360×360 pixel image, without the headline text. It seems at least two different people created memes out of that tiny image and it went viral!

There’s a global pandemic in multiple countries and people are creating memes. This letter from Italy is right.

You’ll laugh. You’ll laugh a lot. You’ll flaunt a gallows humour you never had before. Even people who’ve always taken everything dead seriously will contemplate the absurdity of life, of the universe and of it all.

Edit a bit later: Gardai are stopping traffic as seen in this video. They’re talking to the driver through the passenger window. Via this tweet.

Categories
Podcasts

Dogs are the key to freedom

Diego

The most recent episode of the Reply-All podcast was a call-in show. It’s also the second of their shows recorded since the COVID-19 pandemic started and both presenters are recording from their own homes.

One of the callers was Zorro, calling from Paris. He’s living with his girlfriend and parents and they’re in lockdown. Nobody is allowed out except in certain circumstances and one of those is to walk the dog.

Apparently dogs are getting plenty of walking these days. They’re very popular! 🙂