Week of January 17th

What caught my attention the Week of January 17th?

Covid Risk Calculator 

In its January 19 newsletter, the New York Times  publicized this online tool. Scientists at Oxford University developed this calculator available to UK clinicians on the NHS web site. It helps determine patients that can be returned home safely. Sample calculations:

  • If vaccinated and without additional risk factors, a typical American woman of 65 has a 1 in 872 chance of dying if she contracts Covid
  • The risk for a male of the same age – 1 in 434
  • For 75-year olds, 1 in 264 for women, 1 in 133 for men

Now, these stats are pre-Omicron. As it is less virulent, the odds improve in our favour. And of note, 1 of every 138 Americans 65 or older die if diagnosed with flu symptoms. 

But what jumped out at me was the definition of a typical American woman. Only 5’3” but weighing in at 166 pounds. I found this hard to fathom so I went looking for information to debunk the Times. I only found re-enforcing data. This results in a BMI of about 30, which is in the obese category. The average US male is  5’9”, 198 pounds resulting in a similar BMI category. I don’t take any joy that these are US numbers. We are not much better north of the border.

Vulgarity

Baby Trump still kills me.

Have you seen that Melania Trump will auction-off the hat that she wore during French President Emmanuel Macron’s  2018 state visit? She promises that a portion will be donated to charity. What portion? Which charity? The Trump Family Foundation? To pay legal costs?

I struggle to understand how this family can be attractive to anyone. I know, I am a snob but really: 

  • Big game hunting of endangered species 
  • Steak dinners, likely pre-cut into bite size cubes, washed down with ketchup and a Diet Coke. Add a Big Mac chaser.
  • The cringe-worth opulence of Mar-a-Lago. An attempt to put Versailles, an English gentleman’s club, and a Venetian palazzo into  one project. These are good looks in situ, just ugly when transplanted
  • A litany of bankruptcies, failures, sexual misconduct, and “bad hair” days

Really, I just don’t get it. 

Takt’s Cross Chair

Take's Cross Chair

This week,  The Monocle Minute on Design features the Cross chair. It reminded me how much I like the clean lines and simplicity of Scandinavian design. It even comes in flat-pack. 

Gloomy Headlines

Healthcare systems are broken, Omicron keeps raging, the potential for war in the Ukraine – I could keep going. The media provides us with a continuous dump of bad news and then laments the state of our mental health. I am starting to understand how conspiracy believers get hooked. Keep feeding them conspiracy theories, voodoo statistics, and outright lies and you have got ‘em good and mad! 

So a little levity is a good thing. 

This from my Australian cousin, John, in response to my piece on Hogmanay:

Russell, like Uncle John and Uncle Tom, was not tall, and also like them and the English royal family men, his hair had begun to retreat from the top of his pate since he was in his twenties. In my mid teens I was six feet tall and lushly dark-haired, and with great glee Russell dispatched me every New Year’s Eve to ‘first-foot’ our immediate neighbours, armed with a bottle of scotch for shot-pouring, some shortbread and lumps of coal. This last symbolized a wish for everyone to keep warm through the winter. 

The most important instruction that he gave me, however, was to be friendly. There were inevitably one or two households with whom we had clashed in some kind of ‘incident’ over the years, and he said that I didn’t have to bring anything up, but my visit was a gesture of reconciliation – an effort to heal all wounds and start the New Year afresh. I look back on this as a wonderful sentiment. I also look back on my stumbling returns to our flat to grab another bottle, having felt compelled to join in each and every act of ‘reconciliation’!

And Atholl Brose for a  little Burns celebration:

In my youth, I knew a lady in Nova Scotia that claimed to be a teetotaler but drank quite a bit of Atholl Brose. This delicious drink is made by mixing oatmeal brose, honey, and Scotch whisky. Add cream for a particularly festive version. Click on the link for a recipe. 

And Cranachan for desert:

Cranachan combines rasperries, whipped cream, honey and sugar with, of course, Scotch whisky and toasted oatmeal. The raspberries may not be very good at this time of year but doctored like this……still delicious. Click on the link for a recipe. 

Oh Boris:

And there is some amusement in the news! It was a works get together! I didn’t know that there would be drinks! No recollection of attending! Against the rules I had laid out! Couldn’t be!

Il Pagliaccio

Week of January 17th

Quote of the Week:

O, wad some Power the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,

An’ foolish notion

Robert Burns

Lets celebrate: 

Robbie Burns, Danish design, Oxford University, whisky but not in the garden at No.10 Downing Street

Big raspberries to:

Melania Trump and the entire Trump family; Boris Johnson; Vladimir  “the Impaler” Putin, misconstrued statistics

And that’s a wrap for the Week of January 17th

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]

Vienna on Top Again

June 25, 2023

Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]

Large interior courtyards

From Hot Bedding to Superblocks

June 20, 2023

Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine  an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land.  Or a vertical build-out that […]

Vienna – the World’s Most Livable City

June 16, 2023

Vienna had been a poor city even before the First World War. “Normal” housing arrangements  meant six to eight people sharing one room and a kitchen. Then, in early 1919, just after the Armistice,  the cost of living tripled in two months. Bed lodgers could no longer afford their 8-hours a day in a shared […]