Covid-19. The story continues

My last post about the corona virus situation was on the 25th of April, and to be frank I have not been in the mood to waffle about it much. The situation is depressing, exacerbated by some of the images coming out of America featuring armed men and women shouting the odds about the “plandemic”. It is a pity we are unable to split the populace in half: one half that does not want to die and another that wants to see a conspiracy between the Illuminati, 5G, the lizard people and black hats. The anti-vaccine fringe is also shouting the odds and the numbers do not mean anything to them, because they think its all a conspiracy. Tell that to the family of those who have died so far and see whether they believe it is a conspiracy or not.

How do the numbers look? my usual source of numbers is worldometers although for all I know they may be part of the conspiracy too. 

There are 4 103 537 cases of the virus worldwide ( 2 832 454 cases worldwide on 25/04) with 280 470 deaths. Leading the field is the USA with 1 347 318 cases and 80 040 deaths. The UK sits at 215 260 cases and 31 587 deaths. The UK has the highest number of deaths in Europe and the 2nd highest in the world. South Africa is seeing a gradual rise in numbers with 9420 cases and 186 deaths. Unfortunately South Africa seems to be unwinding even though it has changed to a level 4 lock-down state.  Please note that the image below is only pertinent to South Africa and nowhere else. It was sourced from the SA Corona Virus website 

Locally I found the following table that illustrates the numbers in Gloucestershire where I live: (sourced from https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/

This last Friday was the VE Day commemoration and there were many public festivities planned around the day, but these were all cancelled although local groups did their best to celebrate and commemorate as best they could. I went down to the war memorial in town (I do go out on occasion to “exercise”) and walked down the high street with it’s closed shops and scattered people. It was very depressing. 

I then made a turn around the Abbey which is closed for the duration (or until they are allowed to reopen). It is at times like this that the Abbey would be better off open so that people can find some sort of solace within it’s ancient walls. The building has seen so much in the almost 900 years that it has been standing, and it can add this pandemic to it’s long history. I find it a very comforting place, and it did help me when my mother passed away last year. That reminds me… Happy Mothers Day Mum. 

Outside is it cold and windy and overcast. I may just self isolate today. I am watching an excellent anime called Cike Wu Liuqi or Scissors Seven. It is quite a zany and erratic romp and I have enjoyed it thoroughly. It is in Chinese but as usual I am using subtitles so the language does not bother me too much. However, spoken Chinese is very different from Japanese so it does sound quite odd. I may experiment with changing it to Japanese dub with English subtitles and see how it plays out. At least it keeps me amused.

I have also posted quite a few more ships to our shipping group on facebook and I am surprised at how many memories it has stirred in myself and others. It is just a pity that ships draw such a small interest group in the country, but then it is to be expected. Here is a ship just to cheer me up, I hope she cheers you up too. 

Till next time…

DRW © 2020. Created 10/05/2020 (Day 2893476484)

And now: The Shipping Forecast

Many years ago I read a book called “And Now the Shipping Forecast” By Peter Jefferson and it was kinda of strange because it was really about the weather at sea in areas around the British Isles. It made for somewhat odd reading because there was no relevance to me or where I lived at the time, although I was interested in the shipping part of it. I put the book out of my mind until I was reminded of it while reading another book and decided that I must relook the Shipping Forecast. 

The British Isles are surrounded by seas and ocean so the weather on land is affected by what happens over water and the adjacent continents, and being a maritime nation it is important that the weather forecast is correct (or as close as one can get with the weather). The first warning services for shipping were “broadcast” in February 1861 via telegraph communications.  In 1911, the Met Office began issuing marine weather forecasts which included gale and storm warnings via radio transmission for areas around Great Britain and it has been going ever since. It is produced by the Met Office and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. 

The seas around Britain are divided into 31 areas, and are named in a roughly clockwise direction starting with Viking and ending with Southern Iceland. The coastal weather stations named in the Shipping Forecast are numbered on the map below.

Image license:  Emoscopes, UK shipping forecast zones, CC BY-SA 3.0  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shipping_Forecast. Image has been cropped and resized. 

By some strange quirk the service gained a regular following both on land and at sea and regular listeners are convinced that the report helps them get to sleep, and realistically it is not the sort of broadcast that would make you sit up and reach for your shotgun under the bed. However, the weather forecast is very important if you are sailing a small boat or navigating a container ship, although modern vessels have much better sources of weather information available to them. 

What does it sound like? 

Announcer:

And now, here is the shipping forecast.

There are warnings of gales in Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, German Bight and Humber.

The general synopsis: Low, Rockall, 9 7 3 moving northwards, losing its identity by same time. New low expected Malin by that time. Low, Hebrides 9 9 4, moving rapidly South-East, and losing its identity by midday tomorrow.

The area forecasts for the next 24 hours: Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire – Gale warning issued Oh, nine four two. South-Easterly gale force 8 increasing severe gale force 9 later; wind South-Easterly 6 to 8, occasionally severe gale 9; sea state rough or very rough, becoming very rough or high; rain later; visibility moderate or good

Forties, Cromarty—Gale warning issued Oh, nine four two. Severe gale force 9 veering North-Westerly and decreasing gale force 8–imminent. Wind South-East 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8; sea state moderate or rough; rain later and squally showers; visibility moderate or good, occasionally poor later.

Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher —Variable, becoming cyclonic, 3 or 4; but Easterly or South-Easterly 5 or 6 in North and East.Rain then showers. Moderate or good.

German Bight and Humber —Gale warning. South-Easterly severe gale force 9 decreasing gale force 8, imminent; wind South-East 6 to gale 8, occasionally severe gale 9 veering South-West 6 later; sea state moderate or rough; rain or thundery showers; visibility moderate or good, occasion-ally poor.

Thames, Dover, Portland and Plymouth—variable 4 or 5; but Northerly or North-Easterly 6 or 7, occasional gale in South backing North-Westerly later. Intermittent wintery showers. Visibility moderate or good becoming poor later.

Fitzroy and Sole—severe gale force 9 veering Westerly and decreasing force 7 later. Sea state rough. Thundery showers, visibility moderate or good. Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea,Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey—West or North-West, 4 or 5, increasing 6 at times in Irish Sea. Showers. Moderate or good.

Fair Isle, Faeroes—West or North West backing South or South-West, 5 or 6, decreasing 3 at times. Rain or drizzle later. Moderate or good.

And, South-East Iceland—Northerly or North-Easterly 4 or 5 increasing 6 to gale 8 for a time. Wintery showers, good, occasionally poor.

And that completes the shipping forecast.

(Retrieved from https://studylib.net/doc/7879599/script-for-shipping-forecast-by-adrian-plass) by Adrian Plass © 2012

You may also want to listen to 5 hours of the Shipping Forecast on youtube

Having heard the forecast on youtube I am now almost ready to hear it live seeing as I have a problem sleeping, although it would not be complete gobbledegook to me as I do have an interest in shipping and know where some of those areas are. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I do not live next to the seaside although the Severn Estuary would come under Lundy.  (02/05/2020: Wind: Variable 3 or 4, becoming cyclonic 3 to 5. Sea states: Slight or moderate. Weather: Occasional rain and fog patches developing. Visiblity: Moderate or good, occasionally very poor. ).

According to Wikipedia there are normally four broadcasts per day at the following (UK local) times:

  • 0048 – transmitted on FM and LW. Includes weather reports from an extended list of coastal stations at 0052 and an inshore waters forecast at 0055 and concludes with a brief UK weather outlook for the coming day. The broadcast finishes at approximately 0058.
  • 0520 – transmitted on FM and LW. Includes weather reports from coastal stations at 0525, and an inshore waters forecast at 0527.
  • 1201 – normally transmitted on LW only.
  • 1754 – transmitted only on LW on weekdays, as an opt-out from the PM programme, but at weekends transmitted on both FM and LW.

On 30th March 2020, as a result of emergency rescheduling due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the number of bulletins a day was reduced to three as follows:

  • 0048 – transmitted on FM and LW
  • 0533 – transmitted on FM and LW
  • 1203 (weekdays only) – transmitted on FM and LW
  • 1754 (weekends only) – transmitted on FM and LW
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) sea state code largely adopts the ‘wind sea’ definition of the Douglas Sea Scale.

Many links were used in this article, and they provide much more information than I can. I do recommend the following as well as the links in the above article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_state

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-shipping-forecast/

http://www.openculture.com/2014/06/stephen-fry-reads-the-legendary-british-shipping-forecast.html

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/specialist-forecasts/coast-and-sea/shipping-forecast

DRW © 2020. Created 02/05/2020

Still Here

10/04/2020. Day 84899. Happy Easter. May the Easter Bunny not be in lockdown. I have just been watching President Ramaphosa address South Africa and cannot help but admire how calm and collected he is and how much gravitas he is able to project while speaking on such a serious matter. He has also extended the lockdown until the end of April which is going to hurt an already battered economy even more. The country does seem to be holding its own though, although there are 1934 confirmed cases in South Africa with 18 fatalities.  The president also announced that “In support of this effort, we have decided that the President, Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers will each take a one-third cut in their salaries for the next three months. This portion of their salaries will be donated to the Solidarity Fund.”  I hope some of the fat cats and suits sitting in their ivory towers do the same. 

South Africa does have a useful website that is worth looking at if you are needing local information.

Back in the UK we still don’t see any lockdown measures being removed, and authorities are battling to get people to adhere to the lockdown in many cases and places. Boris Johnson is now out of ICU but remains in hospital while the numbers for UK are as follows: 65077 total cases and 7978 deaths. The curve has not flattened! 

08 April 2020. Day 6898. Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was taken to intensive care after failing to get better, he is holding his own at the moment and we all wish him  a speedy recovery and hope that he will continue to show leadership the way he has. Naturally there are those in the UK who wish him otherwise, but then even Donald Trump has supporters too.  Spring is busting out all over outside and its quite strange to be sitting in this surreal situation and having to theoretically watch the world go by. Still no sign of the lockdown being lifted yet and there is already talk of re-opening schools (much to parents delight). But so far so good. I popped down to my local Morrisons and was amazed to see the toilet rolls on the shelves; and in all sizes and thicknesses too!

Trawling through the newspapers I can’t help but be struck by the many adverts for overpriced designer label clothing and gimmicks in spite of the misery all around us. I guess a layer of normality is needed but I struggle to think about the difference between somebody that has been made redundant and somebody who forks out more than a months rent for a pair of flipflops. 

Otherwise nothing new to report. Worldwide tally is 1490154 with 87317 deaths. 

05 April 2020. Day 6472. And still we battle through this pandemic. The UK went into lockdown on 23 March so we are really in week 500? it feels like longer. There is no real good news though. The world has 1204075 total cases of covid-19, of which the majority are in the USA (311637), the UK is still in the high numbers with 41903. South Africa is holding out reasonably well at 2169 so far but at any moment that could jump dramatically as once again the government caves into the taxi industry. At what point will they break the stranglehold that the taxi industry has on South Africa? 

On the economic front the Rand is battling, at the time of writing £1 is worth R23,63, and this is probably the highest it has ever been. The UK economy is taking a battering though and it will take years before we climb out of this hole. The world is not going to be the same when we do though, the history books will make for very interesting reading in the future. The current crop of school children are facing a huge challenge in their future, and I sincerely hope that in that future more attention will be paid to the lower paid elements of society who clean and pack and drive and do the many menial jobs that are proving to the the most vital. No longer must the suit and banker clones be in charge. Unfortunately the conspiracies are becoming more laughable, and at this moment 5G is the newest culprit, although personally I blame the lizard people. 

I am holding out, although I have been hitting low points in my day. Like so many others I am sitting with an uncertain future, and the longer the status quo remains as it is the bigger the risk that I face. I am however not alone because there are many like me out there who face a similar situation. Stay calm and don’t panic? Very difficult.   

DRW © 2020. Created 05/04/2020