No No No No No No No No No No No…Baaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrfffffffff…No No No No No No No No No No…

Please, for the love of the sweet baby Jesus, tell me that this is not in fact a thing that anyone outside of freaks and maniacs who really want to be interviewed by a magazine is doing/has done. There aren’t many times when I want the media to make up a trend, but if the choice is between that and entire families sharing a single rapid COVID test swab, make things up all day long, newsfolk!

“It started as a joke, actually,” Elena Korngold told me. But late last month, the 40-something radiologist from Portland, Oregon, and her family decided that their unsanctioned scheme couldn’t hurt. Elena began the proceedings by unwrapping the sterile swab from a BinaxNOW rapid test for SARS-CoV-2, part of the family’s dwindling supply. She swirled the swab around the insides of each of her nostrils. Then she passed it to her husband, a cardiologist named Ethan, who swirled it around the insides of each of his nostrils. Then their two children did the same. It was “like some sort of religious ritual,” Elena said.
The snot-saturated swab went into the test card. The test card showed a negative result. The Korngolds, now bonded by something even thicker than blood, went to their dinner party. Nobody got COVID.

At the dinner party, did they only use one fork?

I understand what they were thinking. Tests are hard to come by sometimes, so you’ve got to stretch your resources as far as you can. But I’m sorry. There’s no dinner party in the damn world I would do that for. Not even sure I’d do it for a funeral, honestly.

And does it even work? Probably not. There is such a thing as pooled testing, but it’s not done like this. Not even close.

In standard pooled testing, people without symptoms might be divided into, say, groups of 10. Mucus from each person is collected (using a fresh swab; I guess I have to specify that now). A lab mixes together a bit of each sample from the group of 10, and then tests the witches’ brew using the PCR method. If a pool is positive, each individual specimen can be retested to figure out who’s carrying the virus.
Pooled PCR testing works because the process was designed with that in mind, Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told me. The samples are each mixed with just the right amount of chemicals to combine into one working test. Squeezing swabs from multiple people into a kit designed to test just one “isn’t really pooled testing,” she said. The rapid tests currently available to Americans don’t come with all the swabs, chemicals, and test tubes that would be necessary to accommodate multiple samples, and jerry-rigging that equipment could lead to contamination or unwanted chemical reactions. Susan Butler-Wu, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, told me that the inclusion of too many human cells from the insides of too many human noses could also produce false negatives on antigen tests by diluting the virus sample. The latter problem doesn’t apply to PCR tests, for which samples are washed of irrelevant genetic material.

And let’s not forget that everyone is shoving this thing up their noses. None of you may have COVID, but that doesn’t mean nobody has anything, and now chances are you’re all going to get it.

The people in this story are medical professionals. How do they not know better?

The Korngolds considered—and then put aside—the possibility that their testing experiment could speed infection from one person to another. “It seemed like it would be a reasonable thing to try,” Ethan told me. After all, each of them was up to date on their vaccines, and if the pooled test did come back positive, they had enough tests in the house to identify the culprit. They didn’t even have any trouble working out their order of snot transmission. (Ethan: “We’re close enough as a family that there really couldn’t be any other way.” Elena: “Every family probably has an order in their own mind.”)

I’ll bet you all of the money that my family does not. And I will do it confidently, even though some of us are weird as shit.

In the grand scheme of pandemic-induced norm-breaking, the Korngolds said, the shared nose swabbing hardly registered against changes like remote schooling and reusing masks in the hospital.

I’ll give you the mask thing. That’s definitely not normal and arguably not safe. But online school? That’s just college, but for little kids. That stuff’s been around since the 90s. You can ask Carin all about it.

And in the grand scheme of being a family, well, they’ve seen worse. “I would say it is not one of the grossest parts of parenting by a long stretch,” Elena said.

Yeah, babies are gross. But when they crap everywhere or throw up on you, you don’t have to stuff it in your own mouth, so I’m not having any of this comparison.

The Korngolds insisted that they know perfectly well that their DIY pool setup might not be as accurate as testing one person with one kit, but they don’t regret giving it a go. “I think we’re just like other families that are trying to figure out a way through this,” Ethan told me. And if they get desperate, he and Elena said, they’d happily share snot again.

Well hell. I guess they don’t know better.

We’ve spent a lot of time in this household being very cautious about COVID, so I hate to call anyone hysterical. But if ever there was a time when I would do that, I think this might just be it.

Who Are These People? Cambridge And Kitchener Council And School Board Candidates

We posted Regional Council a couple weeks ago, and now here are council and school board candidate roundups for Kitchener and Cambridge.

My ward is guaranteed to have a new Councillor for the first time in a couple of decades. This is nice since I haven’t always been the biggest fan of the current one and have never voted for him, but that just means that choosing is going to be even harder than usual.

Stop Pinching My Johnson


I enjoyed this video. I hope it played at Boris Johnson’s goodbye party, if he had one. He probably did. He seems fond of parties.

Aside: I know enough about British politics to understand that part of the reason for Johnson’s resignation was that he lied about his awareness of allegations against an MP that he later appointed to an important position, but somehow I missed the part where the allegations involved a fellow named Pincher groping some dudes. I apologize unreservedly to the names tag for my oversight.

On Wednesday 29 June, the MP Chris Pincher – at the time, the Conservative deputy chief whip – went to a private members’ club in London. In his words, he “drank far too much” and “embarrassed himself”.
He was accused of groping two men, which led to a flurry of allegations, some dating back years. It set off a chain of events that ended with the prime minister’s downfall.
First, Downing Street said Mr Johnson was not aware of “specific allegations” about Mr Pincher before appointing him as deputy chief whip in February. Ministers later reiterated this line – even though it turned out to be inaccurate.
On 4 July, the BBC reported Mr Johnson had been aware of a formal complaint. The next day, a former civil servant – Lord McDonald – said the prime minister had been told of the complaint in person.

Mr Johnson then admitted he had been told in 2019, and apologised for appointing Mr Pincher as deputy chief whip.

The Letter

Gill has decided to write a note to a favourite teacher whom she’s mentioned a couple times here in the past. Having also had that teacher, I can absolutely understand why she’s a favourite. She was one who was very good about encouraging people to be who they are and trying to accentuate their positives. If she sensed you were good at something (in my case making people laugh or having a bit of an ear for music), she had no problem letting you go a little wild with it even if now and then it might disrupt the planned order of things. She would still put the hammer down or acknowledge weaknesses when she had to, but tried never to do it in a way that would hurt your confidence long-term. You learned from her in all of the ways that you’re supposed to learn from a teacher, but you also took away quite a bit more, often without realizing it right away.

I had the best 4th grade teacher ever. So much has changed for me in nearly 35 years. Here’s what I would say to her now.

Dear Mrs. White

First of all, thank you. You really boosted my confidence.  You encouraged not only myself but all of us that year.  I also now am forever curious about things thanks to your encouragement.

Second of all, your encouragement branched my passions to things I’d never even thought of. I love cooking, and have been told I’m good at it.  If you’re ever in Hamilton you should come by and have a sample.  I am mainly vegetarian, so I hope you don’t mind that.

I am now a devout Christian, and thank God for sending you to me.  I believe we are all called to do something, and your calling was teaching.

I often tell my mom that whether teaching 2nd grade, 5th grade, kindergarten or 1st grade that I hope she was someone’s you and that they can claim an undiscovered talent or passion thanks to her.

Finally, thank you for just being you!  God bless you Mrs. White.
Gillie

Everybody Who Feels So Inclined, Sing Along!

Listen up, universe. Open up your ears and get an earful of this, because you need it.

After the week I’ve had, this song seems very very appropriate. And it feels good to sing it! If I don’t, I might just be reduced to a sobbing heap. One person going through a cancer surgery and another one nearly dying of a mystery illness come immediately to mind as reasons why the universe can honk on Bobo. And those are just the big ones.

It’s a new week. Let’s not generate reasons for an encore. At least I found those cute kid videos to brighten my mood.

Mmm! Corn!

I know this is old news, but I have to mention this corn kid.

First, because he reminds me of Sukie, the way he gets all passionate about things and wants to tell you everything he knows about them. Sukie likes to talk about the universe and what’s going to happen in the future.

And second, because they made a song out of those videos.

I can’t get it out of my head. I wake up with it in my head. Who knew someone could get so excited about corn?

You Want To Be a What For Halloween?

I can’t stop watching this video. It fills me with so much joy. I only hope that some day, I can make just one of my nephews this happy.

@sierramiller086

The original video as requested. I didn’t expect his video to blow up! I told him he had a lot fellow quetzalcoatlus fans and that has a little famous to which he responded, “where is the famous?” Thanks for helping my little dino guy light up #toddlermom #quetzalcoatlus

♬ original sound – Sierra

If you’re wondering what the heck that kid is saying, it’s Quetzalcoatlus, a giant prehistoric flying thing I’ve never heard of, but this kid wanted to dress up as one for Halloween. Apparently these Quetzalcoatlus things were discovered recently.

Watching this video makes me think of the time Seppa was talking about shapes, and he kept saying something like “Rapadia”. We never figured out what shape he was going for. If only we had.

Seppa likes dinosaurs. I wonder if he knows what this is. Maybe I should ask him…

Here Is Your Delivery. I Must Now Speak To My Friend Alibi 5000

I’ll admit it. Watching this little autonomous arsehole just toddle on through this crime scene giving no fucks about anything other than delivering food is kind of funny to a point. But when I watched it, the first thing I did wasn’t laugh. The first thing I did was think shit, I’m glad this isn’t a crime I was suspected of being involved in.

They cordon off crime scenes so that precisely this sort of thing doesn’t happen. My god, the potential for contamination and destroyed evidence. As these things become more common, how many acquittals, overturned or unjust convictions and civil suits are we going to be in for? The justice system is bogged down and screwy enough as it is. Technology complicating cases because it can’t do its job properly is the last thing it needs.

The robot, named Connie, was determined to get the meal to her customers.
To the amusement of some nearby camera operators, Connie managed to slip past the yellow crime-scene tape. The robot continued on its way, passing a group of confused-looking police officers.

He’s Had A Few Shots Of Something, By The Looks Of It

His heart is in the right place, but clearly being weird and embarrassing at government meetings isn’t just for anti-vaxxers.

Did he say “vaccinate me in my dong”? I know he says “thong” at least once, but I swear he’s asking for one in the tenders the first time.

He’s also getting pretty winded by the end. Long Covid?