Take that, Mr Morrison

People power still works.

Mr Morrison and his advisory panel still maintain that schools should remain open. For some reason, kids are immune to getting or spreading COVID-19 whilst at school, but if they visit their grandparents or a shopping centre, then all hell will break loose.

We, like many other parents around Australia, decided to withdraw our children from physical schooling (we are still doing remote learning, and our school has been very supportive of this) for nearly two weeks now.

A few days ago, we received an email from our school: the whole school will be remote-only; with exceptions for children of parents who are unable to perform remote learning, either because they work in essential jobs or whatever other reason. Those students will be managed at school, as of next week, but all students will be receiveng the same curriculum.

This is exactly what the NSW premier indicated her state’s schools would be doing. This makes perfect sense. Reduce the risk to teachers, and reduce the exposure of children to one another.

Now SA, and most other states, have announced early closure, and possible remote learning after the school holidays.

People voted by withdrawing their children from school. Maybe Mr Morrison should pay attention.

Human contact, or what the f*** are all these people doing

I went outside of my house today.

Initially I went to my office to get a few things that I’ll need to work from home (standing desk extension and a better trackpad were the main ones). But after that, I thought I’d swing by one of the smaller supermarkets in my area, and if it was quiet enough, pick up some supplies.

There were no customers when I went in. Good.

The first one who came in, when trying to get to a section near me, instead of taking the path that avoided me, instead took the path that went right by me. I quickly scrambled to get out of the way. Call me paranoid, but the fewer people I get close to, the smaller my chance of contracting the virus.

Eventually, too many people were in the store, so I left without everything I needed (I’d struggled to find some bits anyway). Having to get closer than I would have liked to people, I braved the checkout area, and made it outside.

So, for future reference, I came within a couple of metres of about 6 or 7 people at Drakes Mini between maybe 6:30 and 7pm.

The PM announced further measures, and said one thing I thought was interesting:

“It seems like lots of people want a complete lockdown”

Damn straight we do.

“Let me tell you, it won’t be for a short period of time.”

We are very aware of that: but it’s about public health. Man up, and lock it down. Have you not seen that China is able to start to release restrictions because they have started to control it?

Close Contacts and Community Transmission

The Australian government (and specifically the South Australian government) have made a big deal about how, so far at least, there has been virtually no “Community Transmission”. That it’s all been imports from overseas, other states, or “Close Contacts”.

But what do these terms “Close Contacts” and “Community Transmission” mean, in the scope of what normal people would assume they mean, and what the governments are using them to mean.

To me, a “Close Contact” would be a member of my immediate family, or perhaps one of the three people who share my office. Possibly even the other 6 people who work in my company who also work in the same place as me - since the air we all breathe is the same, and we share the same kitchen and bathroom facilities. Also, you’d probably count my extended family, although I don’t see them often, when I do see them we in close physical proximity. Indeed, even our close friends, who we don’t see as often as we would like, the sort of ones we catch up with every few months for dinner would count as close contacts.

A generous expansion of this might include the parents we see, and chat with every morning doing school drop-off. And of course, our kids’ close contacts would include their teacher and their closest friends. Note the word close.

So, you’d think that “Community Transmission” would include everyone else. People you come across in service roles, like the guy at the sushi bar, or your Barista. Maybe your neighbour that you chat to while walking your dog. The other parents who you stop briefly to and say hello. The Principal of the school, who you talk to probably once a week.

But, according to The Conversation AU, these people would be counted by the official tally as “Close Contacts”.

I think this belies how serious of a mismatch there is between the government’s current position and communication and reality there is. Keeping schools open will not, according to their definition, cause Community Transmission. It cannot, because by definition, this would count as Close Contacts.

Perhaps this is part of the reason they want to keep schools open. Being able to claim that cases are still being spread only through Close Contacts, when in reality the virus is being transmitted through the school COMMUNITY.

Maybe I’m turning into a tin-hatter, but I feel like our government is not trying hard enough to reduce the growth in number of cases. At this stage, the number of cases in South Australia is speeding up: it was growing at 23%, but now seems to be growing at 33%. Sure, some of this is better testing, but it doesn’t seem at this stage that many of the measures they have started to take have had much impact on the spread.

Using Zoom for remote Cello lessons

With COVID-19 starting to cause significant lockdowns, our music lessons have moved to online. Our piano and cello teachers are both using Zoom for this.

Piano was fine, but the Cello teacher noticed that when my eldest son was playing some notes (especially the lower ones), the audio was cutting out. When he mentioned it was fine at the start of the note, but dropped in the middle, and then came back at the end, it triggered something in my brain.

Turns out Zoom has automatic background noise cancellation. This was picking up the low sounds of the Cello and blocking them.

This is fairly easy to fix:


Then, set both types of background noise suppression to disabled:

Zoom Settings Audio Advanced

I’m not sure which one is more important: you’d think it was probably intermittent, but it was easy enough in our case just to leave them both set to disable.

Lockdown: Day 3

Took the boys down to the park this afternoon. They hadn’t left the house since Monday evening.

The school adjacent to the park was closed (due to a case of COVID-19), but otherwise, it didn’t feel that different. There were a couple of other groups of people there, and we ran/scooted/played for about an hour.

Getting them out of the house was really good - not only did they get to burn a bunch of energy, but it seems to have made them better able to play together this evening. They’ve been really good so far in terms of not fighting that much, but it is only day 3.

I’d be so happy if we turn out to have gone way too gung-ho on this - if South Australia (and Australia) manage to get this outbreak under control in weeks, rather than many months, I’ll be happy to cop shit for going overboard and pulling the kids out of school. But the number of cases has continued to grow at a rate higher than 23% per day.

My modelling, which is simplistic, looks like this:

    date    │ infected
 2020-03-17 │      449
 2020-03-18 │      552
 2020-03-19 │      679
 2020-03-20 │      835
 2020-03-21 │     1027
 2020-03-22 │     1263
 2020-03-23 │     1553
 2020-03-24 │     1910
 2020-03-25 │     2349
 2020-03-26 │     2889
 2020-03-27 │     3553
 2020-03-28 │     4370
 2020-03-29 │     5375
 2020-03-30 │     6611
 2020-03-31 │     8132
 2020-04-01 │    10002

That’s stopping at 10k, by April 1st.

Currently, it’s 2020-03-19, and there are 691 confirmed cases.