Category: Miscellaneous

SARS COV-2 Visualizations

I see charts of the cumulative number of infections (‘the curve’) and the number of tests administered … but comparing the daily number of tests to the cumulative number of infections is not particularly meaningful beyond seeing that the increase in infections is still rather exponential.

A better visualization compares the cumulative tests to the cumulative infections (or, for less staggering numbers, the daily tests administered and the daily number of new infections identified). No, it doesn’t appear that ‘the curve’ is flattening. I’m curious to see, however, the impact of multiple states going into lock-down has in a week or two.

Looking at a number of infections, especially compared across the globe, provides a bit of a distorted view. Comparing countries by the percent of the population that’s been identified as infected instead of the raw number of identified infections avoids the appearance that small countries are less impacted (and that highly populated countries are disproportionately impacted).

News and Falsehoods

Even without watching the live mid-day briefings (which we do watch), I’m amazed at how much disinformation makes it to the edited evening newscast. Trump’s got a good feeling about some drug that didn’t have production scaled up for a bunch of “wtf, it cannot get worse” off-label use. Or, hell, his seeming claim to have legalized off-label use because it’s the only way we’re going to address the current health crisis.
Before this outbreak, it infuriated me to tune into the evening news and hear “Trump said X” when X was verifiably untrue. Sure, ‘Trump said the untrue thing’ was accurate … but without clarifying the veracity of Trump’s statement … saying “Trump said X” comes across as “X” to a whole lot of people. Hasn’t changed just because it’s more dangerous to say “Trump says chloroquine / hydroxychloroquine is a game-changer and is totally safe”. If nothing else, were I writing copy, I’d delve a little into the difference between the two drugs. Hydroxy- is a less toxic derivative … which doesn’t at all sound like “totally safe, slam some and see if it works” to me.

COVID Break Educational Activities

In addition to a Science Experiments For Covid19 Break, lots of e-books from the local libraries, the free learn-at-home program from Scholastic, and a handful of new physical books, I’ve got four daily educational activities for Anya during this school not-a-break:

10:30    Cleveland Science Center Curiosity Corner    Experiments  
11:00    Cleveland Metroparks Zoo                                Animal info    
13:00    The Kennedy Center / Mo Willems                  Drawing         
15:00    Cleveland Metroparks                                        Naturalist       

There are two get-moving videos that we’ve checked out … but it’s maple sap season so most of our physical activity is “hike in the woods and collect sap” 🙂

Wednesday @ Noon,  does a virtual ballet lesson
Daily, not live,  has mini-workouts

SARS CoV-2 Data

Visualization from Johns Hopkins Uni Center for Systems Science and Engineering:

Testing Stats:

Interesting combination of data — there have been 13,624 tests (although the data points for the past few days is currently incomplete) and 1,663 infections. That means like 87% of the people who have been tested weren’t infected. Which could be that they’ve been tested before they are infected enough, or it could be that there are a LOT of uninfected people getting tested. Since the actual number of tests is going to be higher, the percent actually infected is lower.

Insurance, pt 2

We finally got around to calling Progressive about the difference in my quoted price v/s their renewal price … ugh! The first person we spoke to started out with ‘just cancel the old policy & open the new one’. Which, great — except it’s a pain. And we lose the ‘perks’ that come with being a long time customer. Including some 250$ off the deductible. Start a new policy, have the bad luck to get in an accident, and saving 150$ just cost me 250$. Not a great deal, that. Plus our home insurance is tied in with the car insurance. And the only reason I didn’t just buy insurance from GEICO (who had the lowest quoted price) is that I didn’t want to screw with the home insurance right now.

Luckily, she transferred us to an insurance agent for help. He checked and there was no way they could price the policy we had at the price quoted under my name. He was able to move the reduced deductible over to the new policy (although it’s still a pain that they have no provision for just swapping the names … and it’s even more of a pain that the person listed first makes such a difference in pricing!). Final price was 164$ for more coverage than the policy they wanted 321$ !?!?! Only took an hour and a half to get there! And I’ve got a really bad feeling the same thing can be done with the homeowners insurance. 🙁

Insurance and Actuarial Tables

The six-month price for our car insurance renewal went up. Again … which strikes me as odd since the car is older and its value has diminished. With the risks being similar – same drivers, same credit, same very small amount of driving – that coverage should go down year-to-year as the insurance company will be paying out a little less if the car gets destroyed. But, no, the price sneaks up every six months. And now they want 354$ (really 321$ because we don’t do installment billing).

I usually just renew the policy, but this year I decided to get quotes from a few other companies. I was wondering if “churn” (losing customers — basically the idea that there’s a fixed cost to acquire a customer, so the longer they stay with you … the more profitable the relationship becomes) just isn’t a concern in the insurance industry. So I got a few quotes — all of which were about half of what we’re paying. The best price was GEICO at 155$. For increased coverage, since one of our coverage selections was available only with a higher payout limit. That was puzzling since I cannot imagine the actuarial algorithms are that different between companies. And both Progressive and GEICO are paying for a LOT of advertising.

For convenience, I used my SSN to get the quotes and added Scott as the other driver. I wondered how this change would impact the price from Progressive. Now, logically — the risk calculation for Scott and I driving 2500 miles a year in this area with a car with a specific set of safety features and parked in our garage is the same as the risk calculation for I and Scott driving 2500 miles a year in this area with a car with a specific set of safety features and parked in our garage. Yes, I expect a slight difference based on our differing credit scores. But our scores are not that different (and when we bought the house, Scott has the slightly higher score). Got the quote back, and Progressive was willing to sell us a policy for just over half our current cost: 170$. Based simply on switching the account holder and ‘other driver’ people.

They will absolutely deny that it’s because men are charged more for insurance. There’s a lawsuit in there otherwise! But, realistically, there’s nothing that changes by swapping the two names which would impact the price so significantly. And this has been happening for the past six or seven years since we got married and bought joint insurance! That’s like two grand we’ve forked over to Progressive because they put Scott’s name down first!?!

Scam Calls

Someone calls you, call them back. It’s easy enough to spoof an outgoing number (make my caller ID look like someone else’s), but intercepting calls to the 800 # on the back of my credit card or the local number on the Waterloo, MI PD’s website is near impossible.

When someone calls from “from my bank”, “about my credit card”, or “about my nephew who is in lockup for a DUI and needs money for bail and the impound lot”, I get the name of the company and call them at their Internet-published number. Real Bank of America can look up my account and figure out why they were calling me (they weren’t). Fake Bank of America? They push me not to waste time calling back in. It’s my time, and I’m happy to waste it. I assume the fake police and fake nephew are the same. And, yeah, fake nephew only gets this one phone call. *I* have unlimited calls, so we’re good.

At the last Trustee meeting, Chief Centner talked about fraudulent calls & said Township residents can ring up Hinckley PD for assistance if you get a call saying a relative is in jail. That is a great service to residents (and I’m having my parents check if their local PD would help too). I’ve never been sure if privacy restrictions would prevent the police from disclosing info about a family member’s arrest and bail. Luckily my nephew was like 2 when I got such a call. And I was pretty sure DUI wouldn’t have been the charge if my nephew had *actually* been arrested two time zones away from home.