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Madelaine McMasters

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Everything posted by Madelaine McMasters

  1. Thanks Rolig, though this cousin wasn't close to me. At its peak, our family reunions would draw 400-500 people. We're down to less than 200, but that's still a lot of people to keep track of. At nearly 50, I'm the youngest (by far) member of my generation of the family tree. The average age of cousins in my generation is north of 70. I'm expecting to get more bad news. The relative I'm most closely watching is Mom, who at this moment is having a heart failure flare up that's got her care staff (and Mom!) concerned. The hospital isn't allowing visitors these days, so any trip she takes there is gonna be a lonely one and subjects her to risk of infection and the very high probability she won't survive it. Between Dad and me, Mom has endured nearly seven decades of exposure to dark humor. I recently offered to drive over to her retirement village, where I'd accidentally run over her with my car to invoke a quick exit with me at her side (or on top of her, depending on my driving skill). She gracefully declined, saying she'd rather have COVID-19 take the blame. That's Mom, always looking out for her li'l devil.
  2. I've a cousin who was found dead in her apartment last week. She was 85 and in poor health overall. She'd been out and about prior, with no particular complaints, according to closer family members. She was not one to enlist the help of others, nor to communicate much with friends and family. No tests are being done, so it'll never be known if she succumbed to COVID-19. I think the potential CDC advisory is more aimed at using masks to prevent infected people from ejecting virus laden droplets during coughs and/or sneezes. COVID-19 is a respiratory (lung) virus. The nose, mouth, eyes (via the sinuses), and throat are all conduits to the lungs. It's not so much the moisture that's the culprit. COVID-19 hates soapy water. It's that the vulnerable tissues happen to be wet. Similarly, blood born pathogens care less about water than the access to infectable blood cells, which are of course floating in, and filled with... water. Fortunately, human bodies do a pretty good job of keeping the circulatory system isolated from the outside world. Since the lungs must exchange gases with that outside world on a regular basis, and the GI tract must take in fuel and water from the outside, most diseases enter us via air, food, and water.
  3. My Mom's daughter occasionally ferments stuff accidentally, and should really clean her pantry more often.
  4. I'm reminded of camping out on our family acreage in northern Wisconsin with college friends one summer. I made chili the first night, cooking it over the campfire in a cast iron pot. The others, all city kids, thought that was pretty neat. Before starting, I asked everyone whether they wanted it mild or hot. Maybe it was the way I said those two words, the vote was unanimously "hot". So, off I went. There was a lot of crying at dinner, and they burned through half of our three day supply of liquids in two hours. It wasn't until 4AM that the full realization of our mismatched understanding of "hot" arrived. I can still hear the clenched teeth hissing and moaning from my friends as they each crawled off into the nearby woods to fill the little latrines we'd dug earlier in the day. One of them described the feeling as if he was inhaling through his ass after sucking on an Altoid with it. I'd never heard of Altoids before. They're now my favorite mint.
  5. It's that part of homeopathy that posits a therapeutic effect from diluting or titrating some ingredient down to the point it's not actually there anymore. As in putting a drop of arsenic in a swimming pool, then taking a drop of the mixture and putting it in another swimming poll, taking a drop of that and ending up with something that hasn't a single arsenic molecule in it, but has some magnificent therapeutic benefit. I probably should have said "homeopathic dilution". ETA: In addition to the absence of benefit from the absence of the "active ingredient", I've always wondered whether the "inactive ingredient" used to dilute the active one into oblivion wasn't just another prime example of The Law of Unintended Consequences. Murphy loves to appear inactive.
  6. I certainly don't understand that, Pam! I don't understand that, either. I really do hope we'll discover that first step into life before I take the last breath of mine. If we don't, it'll remain one of many things I never understood.
  7. I think we might disagree. Humans are involved in religion and science, so we're gonna find plenty of examples of deep skepticism and blind faith in both disciplines. I see a difference though. Religious folk who exhibit blind faith are sometimes called "deeply faithful", "fundamentalist", "evangelical" (in the broadest sense, every belief system has people evangelizing the faith) or some other favorable appellation. Scientific folks who exhibit blind faith (we have no shortage of them, including those who evangelize) are sometimes called "not a scientist". My own personal history of deep conversations with religious people has been (I'm anecdotal, I understand the fragility of my evidence) that, the deeper their skepticism, the less truly religious they are. This was nowhere more evident than in the cranky old Jesuit priest who taught my comparative religion class. At the lectern, he was a straight up Jesuit. During office hours, you might mistake him for a Buddhist. The Lutheran pastor of the church that hosted our little community theater for years lost his son to agnosticism via theoretical physics. He was sanguine about their vastly different paths to the "truth" and allowed that his son might get ahead of him. Our entire conversation was bittersweet. I've also had pointless discussions with deeply faithful, deeply skeptical people who can't be pried loose from their disbelief in objective reality, such as the value of vaccines or the uselessness of homeopathic titration. All they need is the certainty of their truth. Those who don't share the vision can go to hell. I'm sure I could find atheist anti-vaxxers, but I think it would be a more difficult search. I don't discount the possibility an anti-vaxxer might actually be atheist, yet recognize the power of religion to advance the cause. We can be as evil as anyone. Dad was raised Lutheran and converted to Catholicism to marry Mom, suggesting that a tactical move to avoid a skirmish was enough to unmoor him from the strategic belief system of his youth. By the time I was born, his scientific bent had got him to park all his uncertainties into something that looked like that Jesuit's Buddhism. Mom, who remained a Catholic until the Unitarians offered up better pot-luck, gets frustrated with her own inability to understand virtually anything she's ever heard in church. Meanwhile, she's lived as moral a life as anyone I know. I know I was exposed to the great thinkers in my philosophy and comparative religions classes, but apparently nothing in them got me to think that their religion's beliefs had somehow improved their clarity of thought. It seemed more to me that they'd often reasoned out some good ideas, then coopted the attraction of religion to back them up. I've come away appreciating their moral analysis, but wondering whether the religious wrapper wasn't ultimately superfluous. And so this is where I end up. I see science as the best path towards our understanding of objective reality, everything but the "why". We have ethics and morality to ponder that, and I believe we can do justice to ourselves without invoking the supernatural. And maybe we do agree a bit. You said... "The history of religious thought, not only in Christianity but across religions, shows otherwise." If you average all that skeptical, insightful thinking to reveal the moral common ground, how much religion remains? What if religion is orthogonal to morality, but just doesn't "feel" that way?
  8. I already have one 3D printer. This has a head for printing, a head for machining/engraving, and a head for laser etching/cutting. https://snapmaker.com/platform/ I've seen entry level printers and laser etchers for less than $200.
  9. There are American journalists in China. If the numbers are seriously out-of-whack, I think that'll eventually come to light. My neighbor recently went on a rant about astronauts aboard the ISS sighting plumes of sulfur laden smoke emanating from the Wuhan area, fed by piles of dead bodies in fields. A quick visit to Snopes showed the article originated in one of Rupert Murdoch's gossip rags and has been debunked. Meanwhile, I've just been notified that the 3D fabrication machine I purchased from a Kickstarter project will arrive ahead of schedule because the Chinese factory making it came back online earlier and faster than expected. As amusing as it is to imagine my machine being built by corpses, its physical arrival ahead of schedule will lead me to believe otherwise. My neighbor also put a number to the Chinese deception, claiming that 42 million had died. In light of Drayke's article link, I'm going to chalk this up to the meaningless of decimal position to people who are ignorant of basic facts. There are a lot of us!
  10. I can imagine how my participation in that association would go. Half of my afflictions would involve some body part starting on fire and half of the cures would involve the application of root beer. The rest would be just silly.
  11. Granted, but that makes you "Batman" and you're blamed by ignorant people around the world for originating COVID-19. I wish I could pipe "Blue Moon" ice-cream directly into my freezer from the Cedar Crest creamery in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
  12. I've been darting all over SL, and I think Ardy's got it. Isolated regions have homogeneous winds. Regions with only diagonal neighbors (no shared edges) have homogeneous winds. Any region that shares edges with one or more other regions will have complex wind patterns. The "turbulence" seems proportional to the number of edges a region shares with others. So, the idea spot for my contemplation spot is a region with four adjacent neighbors. Kitty corners don't count.
  13. This is an interesting statement, Beth. It's one that gets the religious to claim we're no different than they are, it's all "belief". They have theirs, we have ours. I don't quite see it that way, though. The Scientific Method is probably our greatest invention, but it's not so much a belief system as a "verify" system. We propose theories and see if they can survive the onslaught of experimental evidence. Sometimes we get the theory wrong. Sometimes we get the measurement wrong. Sometimes we get both wrong. Progress is not perfect and blind faith in any corner of science is problematic. I try to maintain a critical eye, even on the things I think I understand well. If I have doubts about myself, my hubris demands I have doubts about everything. The beauty of science is that it invites criticism and it understands its limits. It knows to stay away from Rolig's "why" questions...
  14. I have had people (including Mom) ask me... "If you don't believe in God, what do you believe in?" My answer... "I believe in you." So far, so good.
  15. What if I know you... and I like you? Gotcha!
  16. Down or dead? I'm floating here! My right slipper can see straight down the barrel, Scylla. By the time you pull that trigger, I'll be able to see straight down the barrel.
  17. I am, in the broadest sense, an atheist. I do not believe in the divine. There are dogmatists who go further, claiming with certainty there is no divine. I can't go there. I share your dissatisfaction with geeks in labs. That's turtles, all the way down. I don't see how understanding that there are questions we can't yet, or might never answer, is somehow dodging them. We'll just keep learning. Curiously, the more we know, the more we know we don't know. That's okay. Religion has produced a bumper crop of "true" answers, many in conflict with each other, and on the wrong side of history. Deciding you have the answer because it's uncomfortable to say "I don't know"? That's dodging the question. To the extent we might improve our lot by avoiding that discomfort, without causing harm to ourselves and each other, I've no problem with "belief". To the extent that dodging serious questions for the security of simple answers harms us, I'll take the uncertainty.
  18. Hi January, Your primary risk from an air conditioner is directly from the mold, fungus, or bacteria that might grow in it. That risk is low and hasn't changed because of COVID-19. Most molds, fungus, and bacteria are harmless. Some are delicious. Molds and fungi can cause respiratory problems, so an icky air conditioner could exacerbate an existing COVID-19 infection, but not cause it. I change my furnace filter every three months. The ductwork hasn't been cleaned in... 70 years, and doesn't look dirty enough to need it (you do stir up a lot of junk during a duct cleaning, so that's not a risk free endeavor). Viruses are not living organisms and are not cellular. They replicate by hijacking the cellular machinery of living organisms. For that reason, they cannot replicate on or in dead things. Mold is not a dead thing, so it's possible for viruses to grow in them. Fortunately, the mechanics of various living organisms are sufficiently different that it's usually not possible for a virus to replicate in any organism other than the one it evolved to infect. A virus that infects a mold would not infect a human. Even viruses that infect other mammals usually do not infect humans. COVID-19 is an exception, infecting both bats (the theorized source) and us (the unfortunate destination). Though viruses can't replicate without a living host cell, they can survive on their own. This is why we're now wiping down commonly touched surfaces. Viruses are not growing there, but they can lie dormant for some time. Viruses exposed to oxygen, ultraviolet light, or any number of chemicals (alcohols, acids, alkalies, etc.) will be damaged to the point that they, even if introduced to a living organism, will no longer infect. Counterintuitively, COVID-19 can survive for days on surfaces we think of as "sanitary" like plastics and stainless steel. This is because those surfaces are chemically inert. They don't provide nutrients or safe harbor for mold, fungus, or bacteria. That's good. They are also chemically inert, and therefore don't damage viruses that come into contact with them. That's not so good. People have expressed concern about eating fresh produce that may have been handled by someone infected with COVID-19. There is, so far, no evidence of infection being conveyed in that manner. The surfaces of foodstuffs are fairly hostile to viruses. That said, I'd still recommend rinsing fresh produce before consuming it raw. Because food packaging is purposely designed to be "sanitary", that's where you should focus the most care. The boxes and bags containing our food are probably more hospitable to viruses than the food inside. So, wipe down the box your food comes in, carefully remove food from bags. Wash your hands after unwrapping food and before touching or eating it. This reduces the potential for you to transfer COVID-19 from the package to the contents. If you are sequestered in your home and are cleaning things that enter it (food, your hands, etc), there's no reason to be wiping down every door knob and drawer handle. Just wash those (like your entry doorknob) that you touch with unwashed hands. COVID-19 can't start spreading around your house until it gains entry. Focus on keeping it out by washing your hands and anything they've touched before washing, whenever you return home from the wild. Now, back to your first question. I don't think we know how the first virus evolved, but they've been around about as long as there have been cells to be infected by them. The COVID-19 virus started as a mutation of some other mammalian virus that wasn't infectious to humans. There have already been numerous mutations detected in people around the world, but I've not yet read of those mutations corresponding to any significant difference in infectiousness or severity of illness. You may not need to do all the cleaning you've set out for yourself, but if it's making you feel better, have at it!
  19. View the Wind Vectors. In "broken" regions, all vector lines are parallel and of equal length. They will change direction and length over time, but they do so in unison. In "working" regions, the vectors move somewhat independently. I just visited a region that had two wind nulls with counter rotating winds building around them. This is the behavior that generates the curved and forked tails in my particle clouds. I've witnessed my cloud grow three tails, so I know regions can have at least that many little weather systems in them.
  20. I also learned about the SL wind via scripting long ago, creating a wind vane for my little island hut. It wasn't until I constructed a large radius particle emitter (which required a "trick" in the creation of particle textures) that I noticed the winds were variable across the region. You can see this variance by going to Developer->Render Metadata->Wind Vectors. Then move your camera so it's looking straight down and cam back until you see the little red vector lines (I inverted the image for my OP). If you're in a region with intra-region variable winds, the vectors will point in various directions with varying lengths (velocities). If you're on a region with a uniform wind, all vectors will be equal length and pointing in the same direction.
  21. It's possible the wind is entirely viewer side, though the way it works appears sim/region dependent. I toggled "FixedWeather" and, as expected, nothing changed. All the regions in the vicinity of Dreamland North have the "problem". Mainland regions don't. I wonder if this is a private estate/mainland distinction. ETA: You're right Ardy, Perry's winds swirl "correctly".
  22. Hi Kids!!! Long, long ago, I built a one prim contemplation spot that depends on the intra-region variability of the SL Wind to create soothing (for me) and interesting motion in clouds of particles. I enjoyed it for years at Forgotten City until something broke, and the wind blew uniformly across the entire region. My beautiful meandering cloud of stars became a boring, constant, unidirectional stream. I thought this was a system wide change, perhaps made by LL to conserve some tiny server or viewer CPU load. A few years ago, I rezzed my prim in a sandbox and was thrilled to find it working properly. Yesterday, I rezzed it at "The Far Away" and found it "broken" once again. I immediately popped over to Ivory Tower and rezzed it, where it works just fine. I enabled rending of the Wind Vector metadata in both sims and saw what I expected. The image below shows vector data from The Far Away (left side) and Ivory Tower (right side). You can see the difference. And that makes all the difference in the world. I imagine regatta sailors would notice this, as regions with uniform wind would feel much different than those where they are highly variable in time and space. Do any of you know if wind variability across a region is something that can be turned on/off by sim owners in some little known corner of an interface somewhere? ICKY WONDROUS To see why I'm so interested in this, here's a demo video of my particle cloud on a region with variable winds... Rather than watch the entire five minutes, drag through the timeline to see a mini time-lapse.
  23. I might vote for Perot again. I know he's dead, but that looks like an advantage these days.
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